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Apr 10, 2013 7:31 PM by Lorraine Rivera

TIA to get second runway

TUCSON - The board of directors for the Tucson Airport Authority approved plans for a second runway. The addition will run parallel to the existing 11,000 foot runway.

However, construction of the runway is still about six years away. The environmental phase of construction will begin next year and will take between two and three years, and the design phase with follow.

Jill Merrick, the vice president for planning and development said the decision was reached last week. She said the addition is necessary to accommodate growth at the 8,300 acre facility.

"We do have a small runway that's only 8,000 feet in length and it's half the width and it only accommodates smaller aircraft, what we refer to as general aviation," Merrick explained. A third crosswind runway also exists but is rarely used.

She said TIA serves as an economic hub in the region, "we support all types of businesses and that's a priority for us to support the needs of aviation community and other businesses."

The existing runway is used by commercial, private, military and corporate aircraft. Merrick said the runway is necessary to accommodate the speed and size of the industry, "with the commercial airlines we've seen a change with the size of aircraft, the fleet used over the years. With the economic recession, a lot of the airlines went to the smaller jets, the regional jets. And now we're seeing a turn in the industry and lot of the airlines and the aircraft size is going to start increasing again." She said the new runway will support those changes.

According to Merrick, ticket prices will not be impacted, "the nature of the funding, we'll be working with Federal Aviation Administration and we'll be pursuing grants through our traditional grant program."

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