The New Garden Airport is plans to use grant money totaling just over $1 million to build an extended taxiway that airport and township officials say will make the airport safer and more efficient.

The money is are part of $10.7 million that Gov. Rendell recently announced would be dispersed to 15 airports in 13 counties.

The current taxiway runs only about half the length of the runway, and connects at its midpoint.

"Right now, if you were to land at the airport from the north direction, you have to turn the plane around and come up the same runway to get to the hangars and maintenance and fueling facilities," New Garden township manager Carmen Raddi said.

The new taxiway - 35 feet wide and at least 2,200 feet long - will connect at the end, allowing planes to clear the landing area more quickly.

Once engineering and environmental surveys are completed, plans must be approved by the state Bureau of Aviation. Raddi hopes to begin taking bids this summer.

Airport manager Everitt duPont said that filling in steep downward slopes alongside the runway will improve safety conditions.

"It would be much better to have this area all level," DuPont said, "so if an aircraft did go off the runway, it wouldn't go over the edge, so to speak."

The fill material used to build up the taxiway will be taken from township-owned land surrounding the airport, concurrently preparing that land for development.

The runway will not be significantly altered, so the types of planes using the airport will not change.

The grant money consists of $997,500 from Federal Aviation Administration funds and $26,250 from local funds. Brandywine Airport in West Chester will also receive $60,000 dollars for safety improvements.

"This is a well-known project. We've been talking about it for years while planning for the airport has been going on," Raddi said.New Garden Flying Field, as it is officially known, began in 1967 with a 2,700-foot grass runway, according to DuPont, and now features a 3,700-foot paved runway. About 130 aircraft are based there.