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Lebanon Airport Expansion Plan Voted Down

A plan to expand a runway at the Lebanon Municipal Airport in New Hampshire has been defeated by the City Council.

The two-year project would also have increased the safety area beyond the runway. The FAA would have covered 90 per cent of the cost, leaving the city with about a million dollar tab. 

Now the airport will have to meet FAA guidelines not by expanding runways, but by shortening them, to leave enough open space for planes that overshoot the paved area.

Airport Director Rick Dymont says that could limit the kinds of aircraft that use the Lebanon facility.

“I wasn’t looking to grow the airport, I was basically looking to maintain the capabilities that the airport has had. That will be difficult if we have to shorten both runways," Dymont said.

And now he has another worry. The air traffic control tower is operated by a company paid by the FAA. It’s not on a closure list, but Dymont fears it could be, in the future.

“What we also found out is that President Obama’s 2014 budget includes zero money for any contract towers so at least in the President’s budget no contract towers would be funded including Lebanon," Dymont said.

Dymont says that would lead to delays, as traffic control is either handled by the pilots themselves or diverted to a tower in Nashua.

Meanwhile, the City Council has shown support for a master plan that would address those and other challenges facing the airport in the future.