CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Governor Charlie Baker attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for runway improvements at Westover Air Reserve Base Tuesday morning.
Westover’s main runway was first built in 1954 and this is the first time it’s been reconstructed. The improvements come at a cost of nearly $32 million. The length of the runway is 11,597 feet, with 1,000 foot overruns on each end and 300 feet wide.
“Modernizing our strategic infrastructure amplifies our capacity to win tomorrow’s fight,” said Col. Joseph Janik, Commander of the 439th Airlift Wing.
In 2018, a pavement evaluation report gave the runway an overall rating of ‘fair’ with a recommendation to do a full-depth reconstruction of the 2.2 mile runway. It’s used by the Air Force’s largest jets, and the base is utilized as a training site for units from Westfield Barnes, Bradley International Airport and Quonset State Airport in Rhode Island.
The 439th Airlift Wing Commander was joined by Governor Charlie Baker and Congressman Richard Neal to officially reopen the repaired runaway.
“There are roles and opportunities for us to play financially to support the efforts of those in our military community here, we are happy to stand up and coordinate our activity and make sure we do all we can to maintain the very vital and important resources human, physical and otherwise that we have here in Massachusetts,” said Governor Baker.
The $32 million project was essential and delaying it longer would have greatly impacted the 439th Airlift Wings ability to get the job done.
“Time and again this base has demonstrated its necessity in terms of foreign operations, in fact back to desert storm, that comes to mind,” said Congressman Neal.
It’s projected that the new runway will be good for at least another 70 years. During the construction process, there were little disruptions with flights in and out of Westover.