The Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach will receive over $950,000 in grants from the Federal Aviation Administration for runway rehabilitation and for the purchase of new snow removal equipment, Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Congressman Tim Bishop and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced last week.
A federal grant of $585,000 will finance the purchase of necessary replacements for 40 year-old snow removal equipment, including a new rotary snow plow. As little as one-to-two inches of snow plowed across a 150-foot-wide runway or 75-foot-wide taxiway can generate a three-to-four-foot high snow bank along the edges of paved surfaces. The only method to safely and efficiently remove the banked snow is to use a rotary plow, also known as an airport snow blower, said Bishop, to blow the snow over the airfield lights, signs and other aviation safety devices and into an open field.
According to Bishop, the new, modern airport snow blower will be more fuel efficient and more reliable at removing snow rapidly.
A federal grant of $366,300 will fund the design phase of a project to rehabilitate the existing runway pavement at the airport. The project is multi-phase to permit design and construction as funding becomes available.
According to Bishop, in recent years the runway pavement has deteriorated developing frequent cracks and buckling. It has reached the end of its useful life and is approaching deterioration beyond consideration for patching or sealing, he added.
“Gabreski Airport is not only a powerful engine for the local economy,” said Bishop, “it’s a key component of our homeland security infrastructure as home to the 106th Rescue Wing. These federal investments will equip Gabreski for decades of reliable and efficient service its dual commercial-military role.”