© 2024 All Rights reserved WUSF
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

After 50 years, a new air traffic control tower is coming to Tampa International Airport

Tampa's airport and air control tower with the city of Tampa as the backdrop
Sky Lebron
/
WUSF Public Media
The exact cost of the new tower, and the timeline for its construction are still unknown.

The money for the new tower will come from the Biden administration's infrastructure bill in 2021, as part of a larger bundle of funding to build new air traffic control facilities.

Tampa International Airport is getting a new traffic control tower.

Tampa-area U.S. Representative Kathy Castor made the announcement Monday on top of a parking garage at the airport. She says the current tower is 50 years old and severely degraded — and has been for years.

“For many years, after visiting and watching some of the electrical problems, some of the leaks, seeing air traffic controllers get stuck in the airport and having to be rescued by Tampa Fire Rescue,” Castor said, “it had been apparent for a number of years that we need a modern tower.”

Jen McCoy, an air traffic controller in Tampa, says the current tower at Tampa International Airport has various issues that make their work harder to do.

"In the last few years, probably 5-10 years, we've had all sorts of issues with plumbing, sewage, fumes, electrical elevator outages — you name it, we've had it," McCoy said. "And the controllers, they continue to work and they work diligently through these things, but at some point, it becomes demoralizing."

Castor said she spoke with President Biden about the need for a new tower during his recent trip to Tampa. It's been added to the federal budget, and work will begin once the money is appropriated.

The money for the new tower will come from the Biden administration's infrastructure bill in 2021, as part of a larger bundle of funding to build new air traffic control facilities.

The exact cost of the new tower, and the timeline for its construction, are still unknown.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the infrastructure bill provides $5 billion total to upgrade air traffic control systems across the country across five years.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor speaking alongside others as the air traffic control tower and airport are in the background
Sky Lebron
/
WUSF Public Media
Castor said following a talk with President Joe Biden about the need for a new tower during his recent trip to Tampa, it's been added to the federal budget, and will be completed if the money is appropriated.

Biden’s budget currently has $1 billion designated to FAA facility and equipment improvement for the 2023-2024 budget, with $662 million focused on facility replacement. Of that pot, $232 million is slated for the “design and construction of Tier 1 and Tier 2 facilities,” which includes Tampa’s tower.

Air traffic control towers are under the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration, with Tampa's controlling air traffic as far south as Sarasota and as far north as Brooksville, while also serving several military bases.

“You got to give [air traffic controllers] better working conditions,” Tampa International Airport CEO Joseph Lopano. “This is a start."

As a host and reporter for WUSF, my goal is to unearth and highlight issues that wouldn’t be covered otherwise. If I truly connect with my audience as I relay to them the day’s most important stories and make them think about an issue past the point that I’ve said it in a newscast, that’s a success in my eyes.