Leesburg Executive Airport, where a fatal crash two weeks ago has renewed concerns about safety, is set to receive $2 million from this year's federal transportation bill to complete the installation of a new navigation system, Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) announced Monday.
The instrument landing system, which can help pilots land safely in limited visibility, was recommended by the Federal Aviation Administration after three plane crashes occurred near the Leesburg airport within nine months, between July 2002 and March 2003. Two men were killed Nov. 9 when their small plane crashed about 300 yards from the airport.
With all the funding in place, town officials said they hoped the new system would be operational by 2007.
"With the growth they've had around here, you want to make sure it's safe not just for the people who are using the airport but for the people who live around the airport," Wolf said.
The transportation bill was approved Friday by the House and Senate and was awaiting the president's signature.
The bill also includes funding, Wolf said, for several road-building and improvement projects. Among them is the extension of Battlefield Parkway, a bypass for local traffic in eastern Leesburg that has been in the town plan since the 1980s. Mayor Kristen C. Umstattd called the project, for which the bill allocates $3 million, Leesburg's top transportation priority.
"The reason we are so grateful is because the state has consistently cut back on transportation funding," she said.
To date, the federal government has allocated $10 million to the project. Umstattd said the town hopes to speed up the parkway's completion date to 2007 or 2008 by asking the state for permission to enter contracts with private engineers.
The transportation bill sets aside $30 million to help extend Metrorail to Tysons Corner and would contribute millions more to help area road-widening projects, including $2.3 million for Route 50 from Route 28 in Fairfax County to Poland Road near South Riding; $1.4 million for Route 7 west of Tysons Corner; and $500,000 to help begin the preliminary engineering to widen the Route 7 Leesburg bypass.