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Federal and State Officials Break Ground for Quonset State Airport Runway Project


Senator Jack Reed instrumental in securing Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Defense funding

Quonset, RI – March 1, 2024 – With $63 million in funding secured, the Quonset State Airport (OQU) runway rebuild is now clear for takeoff. The Rhode Island Airport Corporation today hosted federal and state officials for a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Quonset State Airport Runway 16-34 Reconstruction Project. The runway reconstruction will improve the condition of the 7,500-foot main runway, which is utilized by both the Rhode Island National Guard and civilian aviation operations at Quonset State Airport.

A former naval base situated on a peninsula that combines port, rail, road, and air transportation facilities and an extensive industrial park, Quonset Airport has two runways (a 7,500-foot runway and a 4,000-foot runway).  The airport is home to both the 143rd Airlift Wing of the Rhode Island Air National Guard with its fleet of eight C-130 transport planes, and the Rhode Island Army National Guard’s 1st battalion, 126th aviation regiment, General Support Aviation Battalion (GSAB), as well as commercial aviation tenants.

The existing Runway 16-34 at Quonset State Airport is in poor condition. It requires new pavement and grading to meet the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) design standards.  The runway improvement project will shift the Runway 16-34 end threshold to accommodate a full 1,000-foot safety area over land.  The runway pavement will be reconstructed for improved condition and extended life to better support and sustain our national aviation system and general aviation airport operations, contributing to our local, state, and national economy.  The project will also include rehabilitation and upgrades to the aircraft navigational aids. Upgraded stormwater and electrical utilities associated with the runway will further improve water quality and energy efficiency.

U.S. Senator Jack Reed, Rhode Island’s senior senator who serves on the Appropriations Committee and is the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, worked with federal officials from DoD and the FAA to help secure the federal funding needed for this vital project.  Reed says the federal government will contribute $32.5 million from DoD sources and $27.5 million from the FAA, with another $3.05 million coming from the state.

“This important investment into Quonset State Airport would not have been possible without the perseverance and commitment of Senator Jack Reed, who was instrumental in coordinating this jointly funded federal project with both the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense,” said Iftikhar Ahmad, President and CEO, Rhode Island Airport Corporation. “Senator Reed’s work, and that of our Congressional delegation, helps ensure that our state and national aviation system can meet the needs of the 21st century and beyond.

“I’m pleased to deliver federal funding to make this runway rebuild a reality.  Quonset’s main runway is essential infrastructure for the airport, local aviation, and for the operations of the 143rd Airlift Wing and its mission partners, which are vital to U.S. national security,” said Senator Jack Reed.  “This has been a multi-year effort.  Working together, I commend the FAA and DOD for pitching in to enhance the runway.  A newly resurfaced, efficient runway is a smart investment that will boost economic development and help ensure the airport continues to meet the needs of all who use it.”

“We’re committed to making smart infrastructure investments at Quonset that position Rhode Island for long-term economic success,” said Governor Dan McKee. “I want to thank Senator Jack Reed for his commitment to securing much-needed funding to repair the runway at Quonset State Airport and for always championing the needs of Rhode Island in D.C.”

“These grants represent the legacy and vital role of airport infrastructure grant programs in helping the air transportation system operate safely,” said Federal Aviation Administration Deputy Regional Administrator Ken Knopp. “Investing in our nation’s infrastructure is a cornerstone of our commitment to safety.”

“This runway project illustrates how the state and federal governments are committed to improving our footprint and ensures our National Guard remains ready, and responsive well into the future. Today would not be possible without Senator Reed’s steadfast support and without the support of our teammates at Governor McKee’s office, the General Assembly, the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, and the Federal Aviation Administration,” said Major General Christopher P. Callahan, Rhode Island Adjutant General

“On behalf of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation I want to thank Senator Jack Reed for his tireless support for aviation infrastructure improvements for state airports throughout Rhode Island,” said Jonathan N. Savage, Chair, Rhode Island Airport Corporation Board of Directors. “Quonset State Airport plays a vital role in our civilian economy and our national security, and we are truly grateful for his efforts to ensure Rhode Island receives our fair share of federal support for these important initiatives.”

During the reconstruction project, which is expected to be completed by Fall 2025, the 4,000-foot Runway 5-23 will remain open for aircraft traffic. Some of the Rhode Island National Guard’s eight C-130s will be temporarily parked at Rhode Island T.F. Green International Airport during the project.  However, the C-130s are designed to be able to take off and land on shorter runways and can still use Quonset Airport as required for training and operations. In addition to transporting troops, the Rhode Island National Guard aircraft based out of Quonset also help provide search and rescue, evacuation, and air movement capabilities to Rhode Island during state emergencies.

About the Rhode Island Airport Corporation: The Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) was formed on December 9, 1992, as a semi-autonomous subsidiary of the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation to operate and maintain the state’s airport system. The powers of the corporation are vested in its seven-member board of directors, all of whom are appointed by the governor. RIAC is responsible for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the six state-owned airports and the supervision of all civil airports, landing areas, navigation facilities, aviation schools and flying clubs. In addition to Rhode Island T. F. Green International Airport, RIAC is responsible for five general aviation airports throughout the state: Block Island, Newport, North Central, Quonset, and Westerly. For more information, visit RIAC at

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