A $2.5 million construction project at Rutland-Southern Vermont Regional Airport has begun and is expected to be complete in the fall. When the project is complete, a new taxiway will run parallel to the airport's 5,330-foot runway. The former taxiway will be used as a maintenance road. The project will include installation of lighting, signage, grading, erosion control, storm drainage design, pavement and pavement markings. The Federal Aviation Administration will pay 90 percent of the second phase's $2.5 million budget. The rest of the funding will come from the state through the Vermont Agency of Transportation. The airport will remain open during construction, which began on June 17. In a statement, Joe Flynn, secretary of Vermont Agency of Transportation, said the project was being done in collaboration with Vermont's Congressional delegation to “bring the airport up to the latest FAA design standards.” “These standards will improve safety for aircraft and vehicles that operate at the airport and will make the airport more user friendly for pilots,” Flynn said. Chris Beitzel, manager of the Rutland airport, said existing taxiway restricted airplanes with a width of more than 79 feet to access the runway for departure. “What would happen was the aircraft would have to backtaxi the runway, and whenever you have to backtaxi, you're going against the flow of landing traffic, so it's a safety concern with the FAA,” he said. Beitzel said the new taxiway would make the airport safer, but he said it would be hard to quantify whether that would mean more airport usage. The taxiway, running parallel to the runway, does meet the FAA standard, however, even though it only affects aircraft more than 79 feet. “But as you can see out there, we get those here,” he said, pointing to a large plane parked outside his office on Tuesday. According to Beitzel, the pilots who regularly use the Rutland airport are excited by the development and appreciate the work done to keep the airport in line with new safety standards. Rollin Tebbetts, the Vermont Agency of Transportation's manager for maintenance and airport operations, said the Rutland airport is the largest of the 10 state-owned airports, although the Burlington airport is the biggest in the state. Tebbetts pointed to the numerous Cape Air flights from Rutland to Boston as one reason for the Rutland airport's popularity. “It's also a great corporate and general aviation airport for businesses and the ski area,” he said. With a new taxiway, that busy airport will be safer, Tebbetts added. “This'll help us with the taxiway and make sure all the obstacles are away from taxiing aircraft. It will give a direct route for aircraft operators to and from the runway,” he said. Tebbetts said the project is the only planned upgrade at this point for the Rutland airport. The $3.8 million first phase of the project was completed in 2017. That part of the work included construction of 1,800 feet of new taxiway and a new retaining wall, 25 feet tall and 900 feet long. The general contractor for the project is Markowski Excavating Inc., of Florence. patrick.mcardle@rutlandherald.com

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