Governor Deval Patrick celebrates runway opening

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Matthew Benedetti, Public Affairs
  • 104th Fighter Wing
Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick visited Barnes Air National Guard Base, joining federal, state, municipal and military leaders to celebrate the completion of the new runway at Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport and Barnes Air National Guard Base.

The new runway will be used jointly by military members and civilians.

Gov. Patrick emphasized the significance of the runway and the contributions of the Military Asset and Security Task Force during his remarks at the ceremony.

Patrick created the Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force in 2012 in an effort to launch long term initiatives to support military installations in Massachusetts through collaborative efforts to explore attracting potential new missions to the Commonwealth. The task force, comprised of members of chambers of commerce, business associations, education officials, workforce development officials, municipal officials, elected officials as well as veteran and military family support agencies was instrumental in securing funding for the project.

"I would like to thank the task force -military members and civilian as well as members of the business and education fields-- for their efforts. I am convinced that the lines between the public and private sectors are being blurred," said Governor Patrick.
"The Task Force reflects that spirit of collaboration. By demonstrating this common cause and emphasizing the criticality of the mission, we along with our partners, have positioned Massachusetts to be an attractive place for future military missions. Our big challenges will be solved through collaboration and by leaving aside our narrow interests for the common good. That spirit is at work here at Barnes," he said.

Maj. Gen. Scott L. Rice, the Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard, echoed the governor's sentiments relative to cooperation as well as the urgent need for a new runway.

"Fixing the runway was imperative for safe operations on both the military and civilian sides at Westfield-Barnes Airport. The last full pavement reconstruction project on Runway 02/20 was completed in 1984. According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) design standards, runway pavement design life is 20 years," said Rice.

"A strategic mix of funding sources across federal, state, and local government led to this comprehensive runway infrastructure project becoming a reality. The state funding of $9 million in capital funding leveraged $8.7 million from the FAA, approximately $3 million in federal funding from the National Guard Bureau, $750,000 from MassDOT, and $250,000 from the City of Westfield. With total funding of approximately $23.4 million, the runway was resurfaced in Phase I of construction to replace the current aging runway. 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," he said. "Approximately 70 additional jobs are expected to be created when Phase II begins," said Rice.

The construction project was completed in less than six months. Both civilian and military aircraft have commenced use.

The 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes Air National Guard Base provides 24-hour protection for the northeastern region of the United States. The Wing has earned numerous accolades, including its eighth Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, presented in 2011. One of several missions performed by the 104th Fighter Wing is the Aerospace Control Alert (ACA), designed to scramble fighters to counter potential airborne threats directed at the northeastern United States. Barnes ANGB not only serves as a bulwark against incursions in the region, but also plays an integral cultural and economic role in Western Massachusetts.