WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Governor Baker attended the groundbreaking for a new taxiway at Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport Thursday afternoon.
It was an exciting day at Barnes Thursday, as members of the 104th Fighter Wing were joined by Governor Baker, Congressman Neal and other state and federal leaders for the groundbreaking of the taxiway. Governor Baker said it was the state’s special military task force that made this multi-million dollar investment possible at Barnes.
“It’s actually not everybody, it’s almost nobody has this kind of program in place and has the ability to spend state funds to support their bases in a collaborative basis to spend real money to invest in their assets, said Governor Baker.
The new taxiway means fewer delays, and a huge step up in air traffic, 80 percent now which is commercial planes.
Taxiway Sierra is a $4.7 million allocation from the Commonwealth’s 2014 Military Bond Bill authorization. It will be used to expand the airport’s mobility, parking capacity and enhance its operational capabilities. Governor Baker joined with the following people at 2:30 p.m.
- Lt. Governor Karyn Polito
- Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy
- Congressman Richard Neal
- MA National Guard Adjutant Major General Gary W. Keefe
- Westfield Mayor Donald Humason
“Massachusetts is proud to be the home of the 104th Fighter Wing, whose dedicated airmen and women provide security from its strategic location in Westfield for the entire northeast region,” said Governor Baker. “Our administration is pleased to support the new taxiway at Barnes Air National Guard Base, helping enhance the capabilities of this key installation and demonstrating our continued commitment to protecting and expanding its mission.”
“Our administration is dedicated to supporting the Commonwealth’s six military installations, which help defend our country and serve as important contributors to our economy and local communities,” said Lt. Governor Polito. “Through targeted investments like the $4.7 million provided to construct a new taxiway at Barnes Air National Guard Base, we look forward to continuing to strengthen our partnership with the Air National Guard to ensure the success of the 104th Fighter Wing’s mission continues far into the future.”
“Barnes Air National Guard Base is a major economic driver for Westfield and the entire Western Massachusetts region,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Kennealy. “Thanks to our partners in the Legislature and the assistance of the Massachusetts Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force, the Commonwealth has invested $20 million to Barnes over the last seven years to fund key infrastructure upgrades that will protect and expand its mission.”
“It is great to see construction of the new Taxiway Sierra at Barnes Air National Guard Base begin. The Taxiway Sierra project will be essential to expand the capabilities of the Westfield Barnes Regional Airport and to continue supporting the critical missions of the 104th Fighter Wing. I am glad to support this project and look forward to further collaboration with our federal, state and local partners as it progresses,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren.
“The ‘Taxiway Sierra’ is a groundbreaking development for the Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport, the city of Westfield, and the 104th Fighter Wing. This new runway will expand the capabilities and capacity of the airport and ensure that the success of the base and the airport is able to skyrocket. Making investments in our infrastructure is a down payment for the future and a signal to the community that we value their contribution to the region,” said Senator Edward Markey.
“As a longtime supporter of Barnes and the capable airmen and women who support and defend the Commonwealth and this country, I am pleased that this important project is finally taking shape,” said Congressman Richard E. Neal. “With the numerous awards and commendations that the Air Force has received throughout the years, Barnes has become synonymous with excellence and integrity. The Sierra Taxiway is vital to the operation of the base today and in the future. I was happy to partner with the Baker Administration to see this project come to fruition. On the federal level, I will continue to advocate for Barnes and their critical missions that protect us here in western Massachusetts and across our nation.”
“On behalf of the airmen and soldiers of the Massachusetts National Guard I want to thank the Baker-Polito Administration for their dedicated support to continue to secure the relevance of or military installations here in the commonwealth. Governor Baker has been a tireless champion in seeking out and securing opportunities for the Army and Air National Guard. The commonwealth’s Military Asset Security Support (MASS) Task Force investment in Sierra Taxiway has a direct impact on the 104th Fighter Wing and Barnes Air National Guard Base being identified by the Air Force to be recapitalized to transition to the newest fighter aircraft. Securing the unit here at Barnes well into the next two decades, and continuing to generate revenues in western Massachusetts, and resourcing our guardsmen to ensure they are here to continue to respond to emergencies throughout Massachusetts and the nation as they did continuously this past year,” said Major General Gary Keefe.
“The expansion of Taxiway Sierra is a truly exciting project that will benefit the entire airport and as a result, the greater Westfield area as well,” said Senator John Velis. “This work will increase the capabilities of both the 104th Fighter Wing and Westfield-Barnes Regional and will help to ensure the future of the base and airport.”
“The 104th Fighter Wing continues to be an invaluable partner and employer in Westfield and in the region,” said Westfield Mayor Don Humason. “The Taxiway Sierra project has been a long time in coming. I worked with the Air National Guard, Barnes Airport, and Governor Charlie Baker when I was in the Legislature to advocate for this project. Today it becomes a reality to the benefit of all.”
“Since 1947, Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport has been home to the 104th Fighter Wing which established a longstanding strong partnership over the years that has provided substantial economic benefits and overall community support to Western Massachusetts,” said Christopher Willenborg, Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport Manager.
The airport will be holding a historic aircraft event from June 16 – 20 with cockpit tours and rides available in select aircrafts.
- Boeing B-29 “Fifi”
- Consolidated B-24A “Diamond Lil”
- North American P-51D “Gunfighter”
- North American T-6 Texan
- Boeing PT-17 Stearman
Congressman Richard Neal and Westfield Mayor Don Humason announced federal funding from the $1.6 trillion American Rescue Plan and $8.5 billion of it is going to Massachusetts. The event was held at the Westfield City Hall located on 59 Court Street in Westfield at 1 p.m.