WESTFIELD – Friday, January 31, 2014 – Governor Deval Patrick today joined federal, state and local officials to celebrate the completion of the new runway at Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport and Barnes Air National Guard Base. The completion of the runway fills a critical infrastructure need to the airfield used by civilians, industry, and the military, and brings opportunities for continued economic growth to the region. 

“This infrastructure investment at Barnes will bring jobs and economic development, strengthening the region and our military bases,” said Governor Patrick. “The completion of this runway is a validation that our growth strategy to invest in education, innovation and infrastructure to create opportunity is working.”

The airport is used by both the public and military and is owned and operated by the City of Westfield, and the runway infrastructure work benefits Rectrix Aviation, Gulfstream Aerospace and other aviation users of the airport. Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport is home to Gulfstream Aerospace’s Northeast Aircraft Repair Service Center. In 2011, Governor Patrick celebrated the expansion of Gulfstream Aerospace at the airport, which invested $20 million in a new hangar that accommodates their G650 jets. The expansion project created 100 new jobs, retaining 130, and 200 construction jobs in Westfield. The state provided a $1.1 million MassWorks grant and a $3 million MassDOT Aeronautics Division grant to facilitate Gulfstream’s growth. 

“I thank the Federal Aviation Administration, MassDOT, the National Guard Bureau and the City of Westfield for providing the funding for this important project,” said Senator Edward Markey. “This an excellent example of governments working together on all levels to strengthen one of our Commonwealth’s great assets, the Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport and Barnes Air National Guard Base. Fixing this runway was essential for both military and civilian use, and shows our state’s commitment to Massachusetts Air National Guard. Governor Patrick has wisely dedicated state resources to key infrastructure like Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport, and these investments will continue to bring economic growth to the region.”

The runway also services the Barnes Air National Guard Base and the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard is located on Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport. Barnes Air National Guard Base provides 24-hour protection for the northeastern region of the United States with their F-15 Eagle jets. The Aerospace Control Alert at Barnes provides armed fighters ready to scramble in a moment’s notice to protect the Northeast from any airborne threat. They are responsible for protecting a quarter of the nation’s population covering cities such as Boston, Pittsburgh, New York and Washington D.C. 

Fixing the runway was imperative for safe operations for both military and public uses of Westfield-Barnes Airport. The last full pavement reconstruction project on the runway was completed in 1984. A strategic mix of funding sources across federal, state and local government allowed the runway infrastructure project becoming a reality. The Patrick Administration provided $9.75 million in capital funding and funding from MassDOT, $8.7 million from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), $4.7 million in federal funding from the National Guard Bureau and $250,000 from the City of Westfield. With total funding of $23.4 million, the aging runway was resurfaced in Phase I of construction. Additional repairs around the runway will begin this spring as part of Phase II when construction will create new apron and taxiing space, and make utility and electrical improvements. There were 104 construction jobs created during Phase I of the runway project. Approximately 70 additional jobs are expected to be created when Phase II begins.

"It's no secret that the Massachusetts Air National Guard has some of the best trained, most capable Airmen to ensure the air defense readiness and security of this nation,” said Lieutenant General Stanley E. Clarke III, Director of the Air National Guard. “It's one of the reasons America places such trust in our National Guard as a whole. With this newly renovated and fully mission-capable runway at Barnes Air National Guard Base the Air Guard will be better able to protect the homeland and fight America's wars. I applaud the efforts of the numerous organizations and agencies who worked together to complete this runway project, and I welcome back the 104th Fighter Wing's F-15 fighter aircraft to Barnes."

"Massachusetts and the National Guard become stronger with the re-opening of this runway; our readiness increases and our economy grows. This project is a crucial step forward for the security of Massachusetts," said Major General L. Scott Rice, the Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard. "This airfield - funded by local, state, and federal agencies - directly supports the Massachusetts National Guard, national defense, and the local economy. Thanks to the strong team forged between the Massachusetts Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force, the Commonwealth's Department of Transportation and Aeronautics Division and other key state partners, this project gives our Commonwealth a hub of air defense and air travel for all to use in the northeast long into the future."

“The FAA's collaboration with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the U.S. Department of Defense and the City of Westfield shows that partnerships like this one can bring together the necessary resources for important airport projects that will enhance the safety of the national aviation system,” said FAA Regional Administrator Amy Corbett.

“Barnes Regional Airport has become an incredible hub of economic activity in the City of Westfield,” said Westfield Mayor Daniel M. Knapik. “The City  is greatly appreciative of the commitments made by Governor Patrick, our Congressional delegation, and local legislators. This significant investment in our runway will allow us to pursue economic development opportunities that will put the citizens of Westfield and the Pioneer Valley to work.”

Since taking office, the Patrick Administration has been committed to efforts to stimulate job creation and support long-term economic growth by making record level investments in infrastructure projects. The Fiscal Year 2014 Capital Investment Plan, which funds the state’s share of this project, reflects Governor Patrick’s priorities of creating growth and opportunity across the Commonwealth by investing in education, supporting our innovation industries and strengthening our infrastructure. The Administration has continued to reinvest in the region’s infrastructure after years of neglect. Downtown Westfield has been transformed through restoration of the City’s two major bridges, new common space and the new presence of Westfield State in the commercial center of the city. This new investment in Westfield’s infrastructure will help unlock potential for additional economic development opportunities at Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport.

A collaborative approach to make this project possible was led over the last two years by the Commonwealth’s Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force in partnership with the City of Westfield and Massachusetts Congressional Delegation. By working with Patrick Administration and Congressional officials, former Senator John Kerry and former Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, the Military Task Force was able to package together the funding necessary to make this project a reality.

In 2012, Governor Patrick supported the Task Force’s creation to assess each installation’s military assets, infrastructure and growth opportunities. The Task Force is co-chaired by Governor Patrick, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, and former Senator William “Mo” Cowan. The six military bases include Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield; Fort Devens; Hanscom Air Force Base; Joint Base Cape Cod; Natick Soldier Systems Center; and Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee. These installations account for a total economic impact of $14.2 billion and more than 46,500 Massachusetts jobs. At Barnes Air National Guard Base there are 1,760 jobs with an economic impact of $126 million to the Massachusetts economy.

"There are few things in public service more rewarding than seeing the culmination of a big project,” said State Senator Don Humason. “The completion of the Barnes runway project has been a long time in the making. I want to extend my personal appreciation to all the collaborative partners who made the complex funding possible. The benefits to our military and civilian airport tenants are immeasurable. As Chair of the Massachusetts Legislative Aviation Caucus in the legislature I am fond of a saying that is particularly appropriate today: 'Pave a mile of road, go a mile. Pave a mile of runway, go anywhere.'"

“I want to applaud Governor Patrick as well as federal, state and local officials for their collaborative efforts in seeing this much-needed project to fruition,” said State Senator Mike Rush, member of the Commonwealth’s Military Asset and Security Task Force. “Investing in infrastructure projects like this one not only strengthens our economy, but also protects citizens from outside threats to their public safety.”