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US$15 million stimulus grant given to Detroit Metro Airport for runway rehabilitation

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As many as 225 excavators, pavers, haulers, electricians, and other construction workers are anticipated to be hard at work at Detroit Metro Airport this summer, thanks to a US$15 million grant awarde

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As many as 225 excavators, pavers, haulers, electricians, and other construction workers are anticipated to be hard at work at Detroit Metro Airport this summer, thanks to a US$15 million grant awarded to the Wayne County Airport Authority (WCAA) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. WCAA was notified of the award this week by Congressman John D. Dingell (D-MI15).

“The Airport Authority is grateful to Congressman Dingell, as well as Senators Levin and Stabenow, for their hard work to bring this economic opportunity to the airport and to southeast Michigan,” said WCAA CEO Lester Robinson. “We’re eager to get started on rehabilitating this critical piece of transportation infrastructure for our region – and to put people to work.”

The ARRA grant is designated to support the reconstruction of Detroit Metro Airport’s Runway 9L/27R – one of two crosswind runways used primarily during strong westerly wind conditions. The US$34.6 million rehabilitation project had already been scheduled to begin this summer; however, this ARRA funding enables WCAA to accelerate what would have been a two-year project to a single construction season in 2009 – enhancing the short-term economic impact of the project to the region (a primary goal of ARRA).

“Detroit Metro Airport is a beautiful complex. The terminals are state of the art and leave a wonderful impression on the millions of people who fly in and out of Detroit each year. However, I think travelers would be in overwhelming agreement that nothing matters more than the runways and this money will pay for much needed work,” Congressman Dingell said about the grant. “Today’s announcement is just another example of stimulus money being used to fund important and necessary projects in our community and around the nation, while at the same time creating much needed jobs.”

Unlike previous runway rehabilitation projects, the accelerated 9L/27R project is expected to have minimal – if any – impact on airline operations or aircraft noise over surrounding communities. Because 9L/27R is used only during specific, infrequent wind conditions, air traffic will continue to operate as normal on the airport’s four primary (parallel) runways throughout the reconstruction.

“The timing of this project is ideal for everyone, given the opportunity to accelerate the reconstruction during a summer when our airlines already anticipate operating fewer flights due to economic factors,” explained Robinson.

Work on the runway reconstruction is expected to begin in early June. Runway 9R/27L is currently 8,700 feet long and 200 feet wide. The reconstructed runway will be reduced in width to 150 feet as allowed by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidance in order to reduce construction costs, as well as yield reduced maintenance costs and snow removal response time. Associated runway markings, electrical, and edge lighting systems will be replaced as part of the reconstruction project. The newly-rebuilt runway will have a lifespan of at least 20 years.

Serving more than 35 million passengers annually, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) is the largest airport in Michigan and among the 20 busiest air transportation hubs in the world. DTW serves as the second-largest hub for the world’s largest airline, Delta Air Lines, and is also home to 14 additional airlines, including several low-cost carriers and foreign-flag carriers. With two new passenger terminals and six jet runways, DTW is one of the newest, most operationally-capable, customer-friendly, and efficient airports in North America with more than 1,200 non-stop flights per day to over 160 destinations worldwide.

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.