Local Leaders Fight for Easterwood Funding in DC

Local leaders are fighting on a number of fronts on Capitol Hill. Transportation is always a key topic with the annual Chamber of Commerce delegation, and Easterwood Airport carries major significance this year.

Leaders want to see more bang for the federal bucks in the future.

They began their journey to the nation's capital from Easterwood, a facility that has seen some major growth over the years on a number of fronts, but there are some funding concerns coming out of Washington.

According to Chamber delegates, a stalled aviation bill could have a multi-million dollar impact on Easterwood projects, including building a needed taxiway and repairing a 50-year-old parking ramp. The House has passed an FAA reauthorization bill, a move Congressman Chet Edwards says is critical for Bryan/College Station.

"It's vital for a community, particularly a growing, dynamic community such as the Brazos Valley, to have a good commercial airport, so we need that investment," Edwards said. "We need the Senate to pass that legislation and get it onto the president's desk.

So Chamber delegates took that message to the senators.

"There are a lot of other airports our size that are economic engines for our community," Easterwood's director, John Happ, told Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. "We really need that transportation bill, the aviation portion of it, passed this year if we can."

The local pleas to hit Senate ears are needed, as that bill passed by the House is held up on the other side of the Capitol. Hutchison told local leaders here commerce committee gave the bipartisan go ahead, but the finance committee hijacked the bill with non-aviation projects.

"We just all said, 'What are you doing? This is our aviation bill,'" Hutchison said. "So that's what killed it on the floor. We will either come back to the commerce bill, or we will have a long-term extension of the FAA bill that we're in now."

"Without this funding, it cannot move forward," College Station Mayor Ben White said. "It will just begin to deteriorate. This will not be a positive impact on our community."

But with local re-emphasis and a few good, powerful words, Easterwood could continue its growth in a growing region. Reporting from Washington, Steve Fullhart, News 3.

Easterwood has had commercial flights coming in for the last few decades, and FedEx also began flights in over the past couple of years.

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