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Airport, St. Vincent receive transit cash

| Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

A Boeing Business Jet soon will be stored in a 30,000-square-foot hangar at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity before it takes flight over new street lights and pedestrian walkways at St. Vincent College, both projects partially funded by state grants.

The transportation department announced Tuesday that $84 million from the state's Act 89 Multimodal Transportation Fund will be distributed to 86 projects in 35 counties across Pennsylvania to maintain connections between transportation systems, as well as $7.2 million for five transit projects.

Westmoreland County Airport Authority will receive $630,000 for site preparation for construction of the hangar at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport.

Executive Director Gabe Monzo said the airport is responsible for preparing the infrastructure, as with all 20 hangars on the airport property, then L.J. Aviation will lease the space and build the hangar.

“It's a great advantage for us to have this ... funding to store more aircraft on the field,” Monzo said. “When you have this kind of operation, it puts us on the map as far as charter operation.”

“It will be a big undertaking for us as far as investment,” said Ed Kilkeary Sr., CEO of L.J. Aviation. “Latrobe is a great facility; it's enabled us to grow over 40 years.”

The company, which already operates five hangars at the airport, manages 31 airplanes and charter flights with 127 employees in the county.

Space is leased at the airport for 83 cents per square foot per year, so a hangar this size will bring in about $20,000 in revenue, Monzo said.

At St. Vincent College, about $275,000 of a PennDOT grant will be used for improvements to make the campus more pedestrian-friendly.

Brother Norman Hipps, president of the college, said these funds will start improvements to better accommodate guests to campus, like those who come for Steelers training camp, theater productions, conferences and planetarium shows.

“It's a small step forward in the overall larger master plan,” he said.

The project will include installation of a video surveillance system, street lights along Wimmer Lane, flashing lights and pedestrian crossing signs as well as construction and repair of pedestrian walkways.

Some narrowing of the connection between Fraser Purchase Road and St. Vincent Drive should help calm traffic entering from Route 30, Hipps said.

“People drive at a high rate of speed there,” he said. “We're looking at creating more of a ‘T' there to improve safety.”

Both local projects will be responsible for matching 30 percent of the grant money received.

The matching funds for the airport will come from L.J. Aviation, Monzo said.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

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