New Runways Mean Fewer Holiday Travel Delays

New runways at three of the nation's busiest airports mean countless travelers will experience fewer delays and better service during the Thanksgiving holiday travel season, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters announced recently. Peters noted they were the latest in a series of measures the administration was taking to improve air travel.

"These new runways are a testimony to the power of perseverance, the wisdom of foresight, and the audacity of action," Peters said. "Taken together, they will cut delays, improve service, and help make the flying experience better for millions of travelers."

Peters said the new runways at Washington Dulles, Chicago O'Hare, and Seattle-Tacoma International Airports would allow for an additional 330,000 take-offs and landings each year. She added that the runways, which were built with $643 million in federal airport improvement program funds, also will help reduce delays at the three airports and in other communities served by the facilities.

The runways are the 12th, 13th, and 14th facilities opened since December of 2001. Peters added that over the past eight years the federal government has invested over $50 billion in new runway and taxiway projects, new airport facilities, and new air traffic control technology.

"There's nothing a pilot likes more than to touch down or take off on a new slab of concrete," said Bobby Sturgell, acting federal aviation administrator and a former commercial pilot.

Peters said that the Department of Transportation also has taken 30 different actions to break the bottleneck at the three New York airports that experience record airline delays during the summer of 2007. Those measures include redesigning the region's airspace routes, setting hourly caps at two of the three airports, lowering the cap at the third, and committing tens of millions of dollars to expand and improve taxiways.

"Hopefully, thanks to these new runways, travelers suffering from heartburn will have Grandma's dinner, and not their trip, to blame," Peters said.

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