Ohio seeks funds for roads, runway at Plum BrookWritten by Duane Ramsey | | email@example.com
The State of Ohio is seeking $60 million in federal stimulus funds to build a new runway and improve roads at the NASA Plum Brook Station located outside Sandusky.
The proposed 9,000-foot runway would provide satellite and aerospace companies with better access to research and testing facilities at Plum Brook.
“The runway would expand use of the facility for more sensitive satellite equipment,” said David Stringer, director of the Plum Brook Station. “It would allow softer, slower landings of large aircraft carrying sensitive instruments.”
Such shipments of aerospace and satellite equipment are currently flown into airports in Cleveland, Mansfield or Toledo and transported to Plum Brook by rail or truck, according to Stringer.
The application for $60 million in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery funds was submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation by the Ohio Department of Transportation on behalf of the Erie Regional Planning Commission.
The application is scheduled for review and consideration with announcement of funding expected in late September, according to ODOT District 3 office.
State and county officials support the new runway project believing that it would create long-term economic benefits for the Northwest Ohio region by offering aerospace companies incentive to locate near the Plum Brook facility.
Stringer said there is plenty of available land adjacent to Plum Brook for companies that want to be located near the testing facilities.
“We’re working with elected officials from Toledo to Cleveland on it. Erie County and other local governments have been very helpful and supportive of the runway project and we appreciate that support,” Stringer said.
NASA funded an environmental assessment for the project that should be completed in April. The State of Ohio recently invested $5 million to improve facilities at Plum Brook and the state and Erie County spent $2 million for new sewer lines on the property, said Stringer.
The runway project could create as many as 1,776 new jobs if Plum Brook added 325 jobs, according to an economic feasibility study conducted in 2008 for Erie and Huron Counties by the Center for Regional Development at Bowling Green State University.
The project also could generate 773 temporary construction jobs, according to the study that identified economic development opportunities related to Plum Brook.
The Plum Brook Station currently employs 25 government civil servants with an additional 175 private contractors working on-site, Stringer said.
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and University of Toledo President Lloyd Jacobs toured the Plum Brook facilities in June of 2009 to identify potential uses for alternative energy applications, Stringer said.
NASA’s Plum Brook Station is a 6,400-acre remote test installation site that is home to four unique, world-class test facilities, including the Space Power Facility, Spacecraft Propulsion Research Facility, Cryogenic Test Complex and Hypersonic Tunnel Facility.
The Space Power Facility is home of the world’s largest space environment simulation chamber where parts for rockets, Mars landers and space stations have been tested.
The Spacecraft Propulsion Research Facility includes the world’s only test facility capable of full-scale rocket engine firings and launch vehicle system-level tests at high altitude conditions. The world’s largest vacuum chamber for testing Orion rockets is also located at Plum Brook, according to NASA. The Cryogenics Test Complex includes the Propellant Tank Facility and Cryogenic Components Laboratory. The Hypersonic Tunnel Facility houses a unique wind tunnel designed to test air-breathing propulsion systems at five times the speed of sound, according to NASA.