FAA Sikorsky Study for Expansion Ignores Safety Issues, Says Councilman

In this letter to the editor, Councilman Chris Barnaby argues why runway expansion at Sikorsky Airport would not benefit Stratford.

By Chris Barnaby (R-1)

I want to address the concerns of Stratford residents with regard to the recent “airport article” citing facts.

The recent Environmental Impact Study (EIS) decision by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) giving the city of Bridgeport the is disappointing to Stratford for a number of reasons. 

Stratford has always supported airport safety. In fact, improvements at the airport for safety purposes are part of the town’s 1978 court agreement with Bridgeport.

However, safety at the airport is not limited to just airplanes. It also includes cars and people on the ground. Unfortunately both Bridgeport and the FAA completely fail to appreciate this fact which indicates their thinly veiled intent of airport expansion.

For the past few years, the city of Bridgeport has allowed a “Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection Notice of Violation” to go unaddressed. This violation contributes to the flooding of the airport runways as well as flooding on Main Street and puts not only planes, but residents of Stratford at risk. 

In addition, the blast fence which protects pedestrians, bicyclists and other motor vehicles from debris thrown by jet blasts was damaged in June 2011 and still has not been repaired. In both instances, Bridgeport is not making any effort to make the airport vicinity safe for Stratford residents. 

As part of Bridgeport’s plan, Raymark waste located across the street from the runway must be dug up and removed. The process for the removal and remediation of that material has not been shared with Stratford and our citizens whom would be at risk.

Stratford and our citizens were not properly notified of the public hearing to participate and provide important information to the FAA on the impact that airport expansion would have on our environment through increased noise and air pollution. In addition, the information the town did provide, such as the presence of rare wildlife species, were ignored.

Finally, the FAA did not consider all alternatives to the one proposed by Bridgeport and specifically failed to consider a plan offered by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in 2004 which proposed “runway reduction” to construct the safety improvements and lessen the impact on relocating Stratford’s Main Street to make it safe. 

Instead, their plan includes resurfaced runways and several hundred more feet of runway surface, which not so coincidentally would create the environment that allows for much larger planes to take off and land.

You see, there is nothing stopping Bridgeport from improving the safety conditions at the airport right now and returning the airport to a successful economic stimulator for our community as it once existed within the same blueprint. It is CHOOSING NOT TO, placing Stratford residents at risk and taking more land from Stratford to expand its operations. 

As your councilman, I will continue to encourage my fellow councilmen and the mayor’s office to remain steadfast in exposing this “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and defending the safety and quality of life for Stratford residents.

To submit a letter to the editor, please email Stratford Patch editor Jason Bagley at jason.bagley@patch.com.

Robert Chambers October 29, 2011 at 01:36 PM
Come on, have you seen the proposed plans for the resurfacing? The runways are substantially narrower, and that overrun area that you and everyone else is complaining about is like honeycomb, you can't land on it or even taxi on it. What does that mean? The planes coming in over Main St. will still land where they are supposed to now but they will have to fly over the crumbly concrete to get to the hard runway. The "new" Main street will be elevated over that swampy place that slows my commute down every time there's rain and the planes will be substantially higher over the road as they make the approach. I'm sick of my tax money being wasted on lawyers fighting this, it's going to happen whether the town wastes hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting it, then what do we have to show for it? a higher mill rate. Fix my road out of Lordship, get the fugly blast fence removed and lets get on with getting some paying employers into this town which is the real need. If anything showed the need for fixing that road it's Irene, we in Lordship were effectively cut off from the mainland at high tide. That's WAY more of a danger to us than moving the road and putting in an overrun area.
Michael October 30, 2011 at 01:35 PM
I agree with Robert. The safety area cannot be taxied or landed on. It actually makes the runway smaller, not larger... I don't understand the argument against this and I really think no-one actually understands the issue-- even the councilman. This benefits Stratford more than Bridgeport (it lessens the length of viable runway). Maybe Bridgeport doesn't want to fix the fence, etc. because they are sick of Stratford fighting them tooth and nail every single step of the way. Anyway, Stratford can keep spending thousands of dollars a day to keep fighting something that the Gov't will just push through anyway. Stupid Stupid Stupid.


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