Regional air transit authority could revive Worcester airport

City sees move as key to growing commercial service

If the airlines see the commitment of the community to organize use of our airport by area employers and residents, the decision to locate here becomes more appealing.

The Federal Aviation Administration needs Massport to stabilize its growth pattern. Federal concerns about near collisions at Logan in 2005 and 2006 prompted final FAA approval of a 9,000-foot paved runway over vigorous protest from the East Boston community. The runway may reduce safety hazards of an already overcrowded airport, but should not increase air traffic.

Our legislative delegation needs to garner the support of the co-chairs of the important Committee on Transportation, Rep. Joseph Wagner of Chicopee, the hometown of our city manager, and Sen. Steven A. Baddour of Haverhill. Both have been favorable to Worcester area transportation funding.

The need for a new airport road linking Interstate 290 can easily come when the authority is functional. Mass Highway can accomplish these goals measured by our Central Massachusetts delegation to prioritize this project in a legislative transportation bond issue. Currently, the airports in Hyannis and Nantucket rank second and third to Logan as the busiest airports in Massachusetts. We can make the argument that the airport in Worcester, the second largest city in the state, should rank next to Logan.

Authorities have a proven record of success. Massport was created to save Logan Airport. Authorities bring to the table a political and business independence, which attracts better management. It becomes a magnet for federal subsidies, resulting in a much more dependable financing structure for the tax-exempt investor.

An air transit authority is the only vehicle with good management which can satisfy our current need to end the operational deficit, bring back airlines to satisfy regional air-passenger demands and fashion a long term buyout of the airport facility, maximizing its enormous value potential.

John W. Spillane is senior partner of Spillane & Spillane of Worcester and Hyannis.

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