Today’s news:

LaGuardia Airport opens new $100M control tower

LaGuardia Airport and the Federal Aviation Administration capped a $100 million, nearly four-year project last month as they dedicated the airport’s new airport traffic control tower.

“It’s a new day for LaGuardia now that this tower has been cleared for landing,” said U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) in a statement.

The new tower, a 233-foot concrete structure owned by the FAA, replaces LaGuardia’s old tower, which was built in 1964, the FAA said. Maloney said the tower was sorely in need of an upgrade.

“In recent years, the drawbacks of the old tower became clear: The space was cramped, the equipment was outdated and the roof leaked,” she said.

Construction along with design and equipment costs ran $100 million and began Dec. 1, 2006, by Torcon Inc. of Red Bank, N.J., although the site of the tower was chosen back in June 1994. The FAA held its dedication Jan. 21 at LaGuardia, one of the nation’s busiest airports.

The tower structure itself includes an Airport Surface Detection System Model X, an aviation technology system of radars and sensors that enable the control tower to track the movement of aircraft and vehicles both in flight and on the runway. The more than 17,000-square-foot base building of the tower includes two stories made up of administrative offices, equipment and electrical rooms and other essential amenities.

“This modern tower will help enhance the safety and efficiency of air travel in and out of the New York metropolitan area,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.

Maloney said the tower would be a major economic boost for the region.

“The sky over LaGuardia is one of the most congested and complex airspaces in the world, and now we’ll have one of the most technologically advanced air traffic control towers to manage the constant flow of planes in and out of New York,” she said.

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said construction of the tower was the result of years of work by those from and outside of the FAA.

“This tower symbolizes the direction the FAA is taking by transforming the future of aviation with new technology,” Babbitt said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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