Franklin Countys First News

Rangeley voters pass runway expansion project

Joshua Dickson, a LifeFlight EMT, answered questions at a public hearing held last month.

RANGELEY - After several months of informational meetings addressing the runway extension project at Stephen A. Bean Municipal Airfield, residents passed the proposal yesterday 265-88.

Engineers will move forward with plans to expand the current runway by 1,100 feet. The expansion will provide the necessary space for a KingAir 200 LifeFlight plane to land at the airport, an aircraft that is able to land despite poor weather. LifeFlight emergency responders have indicated that while fixed-wing aircraft might still be unable to land in exceptionally bad weather, the extension would increase the service's reliability.

According to NorthStar ambulance services, the area averaged roughly three incidents per month in 2016 that LifeFlight would have responded had the airport been an appropriate landing place. The new runway would not be long enough for large commercial air traffic, and that the project will not result in the airport surpassing maximum levels of noise.

With a secured yes vote, the town will be filing a grant application with the Federal Aviation Administration by May 1. The grant would cover 90 percent of the $10 million cost. The Maine Department of Transportation would cover another 5 percent and the town of Rangeley would be responsible for 5 percent, or $500,000. The town's contribution could also be covered using materials for the project.

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