MIDDLEBURY-The Middlebury State Airport is receiving several upgrades, according to airport manager Mike Vincent of J&M Aviation. A new, tall security fence and snow removal equipment building are being added to the airfield in East Middlebury this month.
Vincent said a rugged perimeter fence, eight-feet high, is being installed around most of the airport. The longest length of the new fence is along the treeline on the eastside of the runway.
A new building, dedicated to airport snow removal equipment, is also being constructed just south of the terminal building. The roughly 56-feet by 44-feet facility will house a heavy payloader, snowblowers and other gear used for deicing and runway clearance.
"VTrans set up this work," according to Vincent, "and they were responsible for procuring the contractors involved."
The fence project had been in the plan for years and had nothing to due with Homeland Security, he noted. Money for the project is coming from both matching federal and state taxpayer funds.
The airport runway was closed briefly July 13 to permit a construction crew involved in the fencing project to safely gain access to the field's perimeter.
Vincent said that plans are still underway for a runway extension beginning in 2013; several public hearing have already been held about the work.
The extension will greatly reduce aircraft noise in the East Middlebury neighborhood. And the extension does not require that the state acquire new land; the extension will be well inside the airport's current footprint.
Several environmental studies related to the runway extension plan have been completed with one still underway. A bat study by the state-with electronic bat sensors having been added around the airport-will conclude in 2011.
"The runway is currently 2,500 feet in length," Vincent said, " and the plan is to extend it to 3,700 feet."
Vincent said some neighbors presume that the runway extension means bigger aircraft and increased traffic at the state airport.
"Not true," he said. "The extension will displace the southern threshold and improve landing safety margins and enable pilots to make a higher approach thereby lessening aircraft engine noise. It will be a good improvement for everyone. The pilots will feel safer and the neighborhood will be quieter."
Vincent said the airport has been receiving a little less traffic in recent months due to the recession. But overall, the facility remains popular with small charter business operators and private and recreational pilots. J&M Aviation's commercial and private aircraft painting service has also seen an increase in business.