WYE MILLS, Md. – “We need the assistance, this airport needs to grow,” said the Salisbury Regional Airport Manager, Dawn Veatch.
The Salisbury Regional Airport is desperately looking for ways to expand its runway so the Eastern Shore’s economy can soar.
“It’s at a tipping point right now and if we miss this opportunity we could lose Piedmont Airlines,” said Veatch.
“We could lose any future development at all, and you might as well turn it into a shopping center,” said Veatch.
According the airport manager, the runway needs to expand to 8,000 feet, so that they can keep Piedmont Airlines in the future, while protecting the shore’s economy.
“You’d find a real severe impact on business,” said the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce President, Bill Chambers.
“I think it would be very difficult to attract new business, especially manufacturing, high-paid, high-tech jobs,” said Chambers.
“What we’d like to do is provide an opportunity to ship our poultry for example to California that only has free ranged chicken,” said Veatch.
So, Wicomico County officials gathered with U.S. Senator Ben Cardin on Wednesday to work with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in an effort to get the necessary resources and approval on infrastructure plans to move forward.
“This airport has been neglected from its development and growth and it needs to be on an accelerated drag,” said Veatch.
“You have a bureaucracy on approval then you have competition on funds and we’ve got to smooth it out, so it gets done quickly,” said U.S. Senator Ben Cardin.
It is a 32 million dollar plan legislators say is critical for the future of the Eastern Shore.
“The Eastern Shore is a special place, but economic development is critically important to its future,” said Cardin.
Veatch says that they have proposed a 1 million dollar infrastructure plan to the FAA that will help extend the runway to the necessary 8,000 feet, but the FAA is proposing a different plan that the airport manager says is just more costly.
U.S. Senator Ben Cardin says this project is a priority for both him and U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen.
Wicomico County leaders say expansion at the airport will also help to put less strain on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.