Airport Improvements Win Approval

Buffalo-Lancaster Airport, which serves single- and twin-engine propeller planes, plans to upgrade and expand its facilities over the next two years so that it eventually will be able to land and house corporate jets.

Monday, the Lancaster Town Board approved part of a major improvement plan that would include new hangars, taxiways, security fencing, aircraft parking, extended utilities, additional storage and private development at the Walden Avenue airport.

More important, the plan calls for extending the runway to 5,500 feet from 3,200 feet, said Shawn Bray, airport engineering manager for Passero Associates of Rochester.

The additional length would enable larger planes, such as corporate, business-class jets, to land at the airport, Bray said, relieving traffic congestion at Buffalo Niagara International Airport in Cheektowaga.

The multimillion-dollar project is scheduled for completion by 2009.

Commercial flights still would be barred from Buffalo-Lancaster Airport.

"We are going to be both a more safe airport and an airport that can service more types of small aircraft traffic than we can now," said Eric Wobschall, airport manager.

Since Buffalo-Lancaster Airport is less than 6 nautical miles from Buffalo Niagara International Airport, he said, it is a designated as a "reliever airport" that can ease air congestion by siphoning away small-plane traffic.

This summer, Buffalo-Lancaster Airport will install a $900,000 parallel taxiway to give planes easier access to central airport services, keeping the main runway clearer for takeoffs and landings, Wobschall said.

Construction also will begin on an 18,000-square-foot heated utility hangar that is better able to house large planes and offer more room for maintenance and storage, airport officials said. That is expected to cost $700,000. State and federal aviation fuel taxes will pay for most of the improvements, Wobschall said.


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