Keene airport getting $1.6 million for taxiway

February 23, 2021

KEENE — The Dillant-Hopkins Airport is getting more than $1.6 million in new federal funding to pay for a taxiway expansion.

The airport currently does not have a taxiway that extends to the ends of the runway, so planes must taxi to the end of the runway itself and turn around before being able to take off.

“It’s not the most efficient system,” Airport Director David Hickling said.

In 2019, the airport secured close to $350,000 toward the project, and Hickling said the total $1.9 million construction will be fully covered by federal funds.

Keene Mayor George Hansel said the funding will help the region’s economy continue to grow.

“Keene’s economy is poised to grow over the next few years. Investments in our local infrastructure, like this one at Keene’s airport, ensures we will meet our full potential,” Hansel said.

This week, New Hampshire’s senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, along with Rep. Annie Kuster, announced securing the $1.6 million through the U.S. Department of Transportation by accessing money in the CARES Act set aside for airport projects. Shaheen said in a statement that the award is needed to keep Keene’s economy moving forward.

“This taxiway rehabilitation project is a valuable investment that will go a long way in bolstering safety and operations at Keene Dillant-Hopkins Airport,” Shaheen said.

The airport, and the area around it, are in a federal opportunity zone, opening it up to funding for economic development projects.

Hickling said the project will create jobs off the bat for local construction firms. The full-length taxiway will make operations at the airports more efficient, which could be a draw for businesses with shipping interests to locate to Keene.

“People could look to that,” Hickling said.

C&S Wholesale Grocers, one of the largest grocery distributors in the country, moved its corporate offices from Brattleboro, Vt., to Keene in 2004, and that was partly due to the Keene airport, Hickling said. Hansel said the airport continues to be a draw as more companies look at the regions.

“Having a modern local airport allows us to remain competitive with more urban areas when it comes to attracting businesses and residents. The airport is an asset for the entire region and it would be challenging for the city to maintain without this federal support,” Hansel said.

The airport, located on Route 32 in Swanzey, is owned by the city of Keene. Keene pays more than $40,000 a year to Swanzey in property taxes for the airport property.

By:  Damien Fisher
Source: Union Leader