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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Baker-Polito Administration, Congressman Neal Celebrate Progress on Key Infrastructure Projects at Barnes Air National Guard Base

Baker-Polito Administration, Congressman Neal Celebrate Progress on Key Infrastructure Projects at Barnes Air National Guard Base

New entry control point and taxiway represent $9.2 million investment from the Commonwealth to improve security and expand capabilities at the installation

WESTFIELD — Today, Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, and Transportation Secretary Jamey Tesler joined Congressman Richard Neal, Major General Gary Keefe, Westfield Mayor Michael McCabe, and state and local leaders at Barnes Air National Guard Base to celebrate progress on two key infrastructure projects at the installation. Officials broke ground on a new $4.5 million gate and entry control point that will be Anti-Terrorism Force Protection Compliant and will help mitigate traffic along Route 202. Additionally, officials cut the ribbon on the recently completed, $4.7 million “Taxiway Sierra,” a new taxiway that will expand the capabilities and capacity of the airport for both civilian and military traffic. Both projects were funded by the Commonwealth’s 2014 Military Bond Bill authorization.

“Massachusetts is fortunate to be home to six military installations which play a critical and strategic role in our nation’s defense capabilities,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our administration is proud to open the new taxiway at Barnes Air National Guard Base and break ground on a new gate and entry point, projects that will strengthen this key installation now and for the years ahead.”

“Our administration is committed to investing in not only the infrastructure of our six military installations, but also in the military families who call Massachusetts home,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “This year, we were proud that the Legislature passed and the Governor signed into law the SPEED Act, which improves the professional licensure process and educational experience for military spouses and families relocating to the Commonwealth.”

Located in Westfield at the Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport, Barnes Air National Guard Base hosts the 104th Fighter Wing and Army rotary wing assets. Barnes is known in military circles as a “model” National Guard installation, as it shares its infrastructure and facilities with the Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport and benefits from corporate and industry partners on the airfield. Since 2014, the Commonwealth has invested almost $20 million into the installation, funding a new runway and energy efficiency upgrades in addition to new gate and taxiway.

“Barnes Air National Guard Base has been an integral part of the western Massachusetts community, economy, and workforce for decades,” said Congressman Richard E. Neal, Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means. “In conjunction with my partners on the federal level and with the Baker-Polito Administration here in Massachusetts, we are able to ensure the base’s long-term success through investments like the ones we are celebrating today. I remain committed to fighting for Barnes, its workforce, and all military families who call this area home.”

The 104th Fighter Wing is made up of highly trained personnel ready to provide Air Superiority on-demand anywhere in the world with 21 assigned F-15C Eagle Aircraft. The 104th is trained to provide 24/7 Aerospace Control Alert, with armed F-15 fighters ready to scramble in a moment’s notice to protect the northeast United States – a region that accounts for approximately one-quarter of the nation’s population and more than one-third of the country’s Gross Domestic Product – from any airborne threat. The Wing is always on call for emergency response including security, logistics, communications, explosive ordnance disposal, firefighting and medical support to the nation and Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

“This project shows how effective the 104th Fighter Wing and the Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport can be when working together,” said 104th Fighter Wing commander Col. David ‘Moon’ Halasi-Kun. “By capitalizing on each other’s capabilities, we are able to maximize the use of the joint airport, as well as provide continual economic benefits to the community.”

“These infrastructure investments at Barnes Air National Guard Base are made possible by collaboration with the Legislature and guidance from the Massachusetts Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “Massachusetts’ six military installations are significant economic drivers for their communities and the Commonwealth, and ensuring their long-term competitiveness has been a top priority for our administration.”

“It is the multi-agency coordination that allows for projects to get done successfully and I am pleased to join with community members to celebrate the collaboration which has led to infrastructure improvements benefitting the public using the Westfield-Barnes Airport,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler. “An investment in a local airport is an investment in the regional economy and I want to thank everyone who worked together on a variety of projects, including local officials, members of the MassDOT Highway Division and Aeronautics Division, and the Massachusetts Air National Guard’s 104th Fighter Wing and the Massachusetts Army National Guard’s 226th Division Aviation Support Battalion.”

Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy joined Congressman Richard Neal, Major General Gary Keefe, Westfield Mayor Donald Humason, and state and local leaders in May 2021 to celebrate the groundbreaking of Taxiway Sierra at Barnes Air National Guard Base. The Massachusetts National Guard and their partners have completed the taxiway ahead of schedule and under budget.

“This new taxiway and the ground breaking for a new gate and entry point at Barnes Air National Guard Base are critical steps in ensuring the 104th Fighter Wing will continue to meet the needs of the commonwealth and the nation long into the future,” said Maj. Gen. Keefe, The Adjutant General, Massachusetts National Guard. “These key infrastructure improvements will benefit the Guard, the Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport and the surrounding community.”

“The main gate projects and the expansion of Taxiway Sierra are truly exciting projects that will benefit the entire airport and as a result, the greater Westfield area as well," said Senator John Velis. "This work will increase the capabilities of both the 104th Fighter Wing and Westfield-Barnes Regional and will help to ensure the future of the base and airport."

“The 104th Fighter Wing continues to be an invaluable partner and employer in Westfield and in the region,” said Mayor Mike McCabe. “The Main Gate and Taxiway Sierra projects have been a long time coming. Thankfully, today they become a reality and a benefit to all.”

“Since 1947, Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport has been home to the 104th Fighter, which established a longstanding strong partnership over the years that has provided substantial economic benefits and overall community support to Western Massachusetts,” said Christopher Willenborg, Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport Manager.

This event and $9.2 million investment comes on the heels of Governor Baker signing An Act relative to Military Spouse Licensure Portability, Education and Enrollment of Dependents, better known as the SPEED Act. Two key components of the SPEED Act include improving the process for military spouses to secure professional licenses when assigned to Massachusetts and improving the educational experience for military families.

Massachusetts is home to six military installations that generate more than $13.2 billion in total economic activity and support more than 57,600 jobs, including Barnes Air National Guard Base, Fort Devens, Hanscom Air Force Base, Joint Base Cape Cod, the U.S. Army's Natick Soldier Systems Center, and Westover Air Reserve Base.

The Massachusetts Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force, as a nation-leading defense community support entity, has leveraged the strength of the Commonwealth’s federal, state, and local leadership to commit over $46 million to these military installations and defense communities, including over $32 million under the 2014 Military Bond Bill authorization.
 

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