OAKLAND, Calif. – Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Randy Babbitt helped break ground today for a new air traffic control tower at Oakland International Airport funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The Oakland International Airport ARRA grant, totaling $33.2 million, is the FAA’s largest, single Recovery Act award.
“This Recovery Act project will make a difference for the Oakland area economy,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “People will be put to work building an environmentally friendly tower that will better serve the airport and the community.”
The Recovery Act grant will pay for construction of the 236-foot-tall tower and a 13,000 square-foot base building, as well as some equipment for the facility.
“This brand new, modernized tower will give air traffic controllers a better view of the airfield and help improve airport efficiency,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. “The Recovery Act is allowing us to make needed investments at airports around the country.”
Two air traffic control towers currently serve Oakland International Airport. A 158-foot-tall tower on the southern portion of the airfield was built in 1962 as a part of a terminal expansion project. In 1972, construction of a large hangar blocked some views from the south tower, requiring the Port of Oakland to build a second tower to handle traffic on the north runways.
Replacing both towers with a single one will improve air traffic operations and reduce operating costs. The FAA expects to start using the new tower in 2013.
The new tower will feature a number of environmental benefits, including a covered parking structure with solar panels on the roof of the base building, which will provide power for the tower and its electrical systems. The tower also will have a geothermal heating system and a rainwater storage system.
In addition to the Oakland tower funding, the FAA provided a total of $37 million in Recovery Act grants to Bay Area airports.
Oakland International Airport received a $14.9 million ARRA grant to rebuild a large apron area used by airlines and cargo carriers and to reconfigure a taxiway. By replacing old apron pavement, the project will improve efficiency and allow larger aircraft to use the taxiway.
San Francisco International Airport received ARRA grants totaling $14.5 million to resurface two runways. The projects leveled out the runways, which tend to settle over time because of ground conditions. The new asphalt concrete resurface also will prevent unexpected runway shutdowns due to pavement breakdown, and will guard against crumbling pavement debris that can damage aircraft.
In San Jose, a $5.2 million Recovery Act grant is funding the extension of a taxiway at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport. This project will improve safety by eliminating the need for private planes to cross a runway while taxiing to an engine run-up area.
An additional $2.4 million in Recovery Act funds is modernizing and making safety upgrades at area facilities and airports.
Nationwide, $1.3 billion in Recovery Act money has been made available for both airport improvement projects and air traffic control facility and system upgrades. These Recovery Act grants have been distributed to airports that serve commercial passengers, cargo and general aviation.