Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport officials are hoping to expand their runway, and supporters of the idea argue a bigger runway could mean more business for the whole state.
“We need Tweed in order to grow our region economically that ultimately grows our state,” said New Haven Mayor Toni Harp.
Harp is among those pushing to lengthen the airport’s runway by a thousand feet, to allow more regional jets to take off from Tweed and head to places like Washington DC, Chicago and Florida. Currently, the airport only offers commercial flights to Philadelphia from American Airlines.
“It is a wasted opportunity. There are opportunities for regional meetings, for national meetings that we don’t get here in New Haven simply because people can’t get in and out of here quickly,” Harp said.
The airport’s present general statute limits the length of the runway, limiting what types of planes can fly and forcing travelers in the area of travel to Bradley International Airport or New York airports for more desirable flights.
House Bill 5537, a bill regarding solar facilities at municipal airports currently before the General Assembly’s Planning and Development Committee could abolish the restriction on Tweed. Airport officials made the argument for expansion in front of the committee Monday.
But some airport neighbors are opposed to growth at Tweed.
"I looked it up and it’s not cheap. At all, by no means. So I’m always going to Hartford or JFK. I don’t travel from here,” said Rosemarie Albanese, who lives nearby. “Their headlights are literally in my window all the time,” she added.
Albanese lives just down Burr Street. She has concerns about the potential noise and structural impact of more flights at Tweed. She also remembers an August 2013 plane crash, where a plane approaching Tweed went down in East Haven, crashing into a home and killing four people.
“It’s scary, having the plane crash right there and then bigger planes? No,” she told NBC Connecticut.
Other neighbors are undecided on the issue, agreeing that the airport could be a key to growth in the region, but wondering what a bigger Tweed could mean of their personal lives.
“I’d want to know how many flights are going to be added and in terms of timing and how much more traffic they anticipate,” Barb Hedberg said.