WEST CHESTER (August 21) – State Senator Andy Dinniman announced today that Sikorsky Global Helicopters, Inc. will receive a $ 2.5 million Economic Growth Initiative Grant for construction of a vehicle tunnel for Washington Lane in Coatesville.

The tunnel will allow continued vehicle access on Washington Lane, which currently separates the Sikorsky Global Headquarters facility and the Chester County Airport. In turn, Sikorsky will have direct aircraft access to the airport, freeing it from restrictions such as having to shut down the road when flying overhead.

“This project is crucial to keeping Sikorsky growing strong here in Chester County,” Dinniman said. “It will solidify Sikorsky’s continued operations in our region while removing any current inconvenience to residents and motorists who regularly use Washington Lane. It will ensure that hundreds of high-paying jobs stay in Chester County and in fact allow for continued expansion and job growth.”

Dinniman, who championed the project, said that in meetings with Sikorsky, company officials were weighing the possibility of moving operations to a location directly adjacent to an airport.

“The Coatesville facility manufactures private commercial and emergency helicopters, which is one of the fastest growing segments of the helicopter market,” Dinniman said.

“But under regulations, Sikorsky needs to be directly adjacent to or have direct access to an airport for their operations to continue to grow, which is precisely why this project is so important.”

Sikorsky’s current operations require the helicopters to depart the facility and perform a low hover to the Chester County Airport. During this transition, both ends of Washington Lane are closed to mitigate risks to people and vehicles using the road. This scenario takes place several times a day.

In recent years, Sikorsky has experienced rapid job growth, growing from about 700 employees in 2010 to approximately 1,800 today.

With direct airport access via the Washington Lane tunnel, Dinniman said, company officials have assured him that the facility is ripe for future expansion and growth.

“We are not just talking about keeping current employees in Chester County,” Dinniman said. “We are talking about the potential for many, many more as the company continues to grow and succeed.”

The funds, which come through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP), will go towards the engineering and construction of the tunnel.

RACP is administered by the Office of the Budget to support major regional, economic, cultural, civic and historical improvement projects. Eligible projects must include a 50 percent match of non-state dollars.

 

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