NEW BEDFORD — New Bedford Regional Airport will be getting an upgrade, after officials announced Monday a commitment for design and project funding from the state's transportation department.

A new terminal and control tower will be built at the airport now that the Massachusetts Department of Transportation has committed to fund the project, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell and State Rep. Bill Straus wrote in an Oct. 17 joint statement.

Straus is the House Transportation Committee Chair on Beacon Hill. He and Mitchell hosted an airport visit from state transportation secretary Jamey Tesler in June.

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During the visit, Airport Commission members and staff briefed Tesler on design options for a new terminal to replace the current building, which was construction in the 1950's and now requires infrastructure updates.

According to the statement from Mitchell and Straus, the current terminal is the oldest for any commercial airport still in active use in New England.

The officials cited MassDOT as saying that the transportation authority "is funding and authorizing the City/Airport Commission to proceed with full design and engineering of the Airport Terminal Building."

One early part of the process, the transportation authority is cited as saying, is updating the airport layout plan, which will help the project become eligible for federal and state funding.

"Additionally, within the next update to the Capital Improvement Plan, MassDOT will incorporate this project," the joint statement notes.

With the state's commitment, the city's airport commission will be able to start the design and permitting process for the replacement facility, which is expected to be complete by mid-2023, Mitchell and Straus wrote.

Funding for the complete project will come from the state's five-year capital plan.

"I want to thank the Mayor and the Commission for their aggressive pursuit of this needed project which meets an important need in the region’s transportation growth over the next several years," said Straus.

"This state commitment, however, would not have been possible without the strong interest in the South Coast by Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito."

Mitchell commented, "I want to thank Chairman Straus for teaming up with my administration, along with Chairman Carlos DaCunha and the other members of the Airport Commission, to advance this long-needed project, which will bolster the airport’s ability to expand commercial air service offerings."

He added that the project "represents another key investment by the Baker-Polito Administration to support Greater New Bedford’s long-term economic competitiveness."

"Municipal airports are a tremendous boost to the economic vitality of a region and investments in New Bedford and updating the Airport Layout Plan will have positive benefits for residents and the business community for many decades," said Tesler.

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