FAA Announces Grant for New Control Tower at PIA
Peoria, IL – The US Department of Transportation today announced a grant of $15 million under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to begin construction of a replacement Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) at the General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport. The existing ATCT is co-located with the old terminal which opened in 1959. The condition of the ATCT has deteriorated significantly over the years and in addition does not meet current FAA physical standards or requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The new tower will meet all of those standards and provide a safe, efficient facility to control air traffic into and out of PIA.
The Metropolitan Airport Authority of Peoria and the FAA have previously completed a site selection study for the new tower and have also completed the design work for the facility. All that remained was finding the funds for construction.
“We’re extremely excited and happy about the announcement of the $15 million grant from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). This grant will start the process of replacing the aging Air Traffic Control Tower, which unlike at many airports, is locally owned by the Airport Authority. The old tower opened in 1959, the year before the creation of the Federal Aviation Administration. We’re told it is the second oldest tower still in service in the United States, and we were told by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association that it is in the worst condition of any FAA staffed tower in the nation. Due to the rules of the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program, this particular tower was cut off from all forms of federal financial assistance. The IIJA created a new program that basically made the tower in Peoria eligible,” said Gene Olson, Director of Airports for the Metropolitan Airport Authority of Peoria.
Olson added, “We could not have gotten to this point without the efforts of Peoria’s Congressional Delegation, especially the hard work of US Rep. Cheri Bustos, US Rep. Darin LaHood, their respective current and former staffers, as well as Illinois’ two Senators Durbin and Duckworth. The Congressional staffers worked tirelessly and maintained focus on this issue for many years, and creatively helped to craft the legislation in the IIJA that made this grant possible.”
“The aging Air Traffic Control Tower was becoming an existential issue for the General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport. We don’t know how long it would have lasted, but eventually we would have come to the point where we’d have to shut the tower down. Without a control tower, maintaining and improving airline service would have become almost impossible. This grant will solve this problem and allow PIA to continue to thrive and grow and help to connect Peoria and Central Illinois to the world economy,” Olson said.
The Airport Authority has already completed an Environmental Assessment of the proposed new tower, and the first step in the process will be to update that study. The design work, completed in 2016, will be reviewed, and then the project will be ready to begin. The project is expected to take multiple years to complete, and the new tower will need to go through a commissioning process prior to switching over completely. Total cost of the project is estimated to be approximately $27 million, not including specialty FAA equipment.
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