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Tue, Feb 21, 2006

Dulles Gets $200 Million DOT Pledge For Fourth Runway

Secretary Mineta Signs Letter Of Intent

Washington's Dulles International Airport (IAD) received a $200 million pledge from the federal government Tuesday to help build a fourth runway at the busy airport. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta signed a letter of intent to provide funding over the next eleven years for the project.

"The new runway will reduce flight delays, allow the airport to keep pace with demand, and ensure safety," Mineta said at the signing. "It will give Washington area travelers more choices, more convenience and more confidence."

The new federal funds will help cover the costs of building the runway and associated taxiways at the airport. The project will provide a third north-south runway at the airport. Once completed in 2008, it will allow Dulles to handle up to 50 percent more flights per hour during the right conditions, Mineta said.

He added that the new runway will make it easier for aircraft to land during bad weather conditions. He said the project also would help reduce flight delays nationwide.

"Making sure the airport can handle more take-offs and landings each year is the best way to avoid the kind of traffic jams in the sky that cause delays at airports from Savannah to San Diego and Memphis to Miami," Mineta said.

The decision to begin construction on a new runway comes after the FAA released its Record of Decision (ROD) on the proposal last October. At the time, the FAA said the proposal -- which also called for the construction of another east-west runway -- was the best way to meet the airport's future needs safely, and with minimal environmental impact.

Traffic at Dulles has grown from twelve million passengers a year in 1996 to over twenty-seven million in 2005, Mineta said. The airport is now among the nation’s busiest.

Mineta said that the airport has been working over the years to keep pace with its growing passenger load -- by expanding its main terminal (below), adding a new air traffic control tower and new concourses and building new parking facilities, among other projects.

Mineta added, however, "this airport is growing too fast to just tinker around the edges."

The Letter of Intent signed by Secretary Mineta and Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority President James Bennett provides Dulles with a federal commitment to use Airport Improvement Funds from the Federal Aviation Administration to help cover part of the $356 million project.

FMI: www.dot.gov

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