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Schumer Announces More Than $40 Million For New Air Traffic Control Tower At LaGuardia

A New Control Tower at LGA will Significantly Improve Efficiency and Close Calls

Senator Says Unused FY2004 Funds will be Used to Replace 42 Year Old Tower

Schumer calls on FAA To Ensure Project Moves Forward and Doesnt Stall Out

Today, Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that the Federal Aviation Administration has approved significant funding for a new air traffic control tower at LaGuardia Airport. Schumer said the new tower will help ease crippling flight delays at the airport and help controllers manage traffic on the runways in order to prevent more near aircraft collisions. Schumer has been actively lobbying the FAA to make the new tower a priority and wrote to Department of Transportation Secretary Mineta last November urging him to devote significant funding to the project. The FAAs decision, made earlier this week, means that the LGA tower project moves in to the implementation phase and will be allotted as much funding as needed to complete construction, which amounts to at least $40 million. The FAA was slated to go ahead with this project many times in the past few years but it was scuttled for a variety of planning issues. Schumer today also encouraged the FAA to keep the tower rebuilding on track.

The best use for this money is investing in the safety and efficiency of an airport that serves 26 million passengers each year, Schumer said. Its time that New York air travelers arrive and depart as scheduled and without risk, we cannot wait another 15 years.

The LaGuardia tower project started nearly 15 years ago and, with dramatic increases in air traffic projected in the very near future, it is needed now more than ever. The final plan includes a replacement of the aging 42 year old control tower and the ability to install a Category II Instrument Approach, which allows aircraft to land during periods of inclement weather. Overall, the new tower is essential to reduce delays and improve safety on the ground and in the skies. In November 2005, the last month for which data was available, only 62 percent of flights in to LGA arrived and 77 percent left on time.

The current tower at LaGuardia presents many safety concerns and limitations. The size and capability of the current tower does not permit new equipment to be installed and, as technology is constantly improving, it is imperative that the best available equipment for aviation safety be utilized. As a result of the constant installation and removal of equipment from the roof of the tower and the age of the structure, leaks have developed inside the tower itself. Over the past 2 years, this has lead to the installation of tarps with garden hoses attached in the roof directly above the controllers heads. Numerous times water has leaked onto the equipment and the controllers, interrupting operations and compromising the safety and efficiency of air traffic operations. Additionally, the view of certain taxiways is obstructed by the US Airways terminal. Not having aircraft in sight visually from the tower compromises the efficiency and the safety of the airport.

There is significant funding available from the Aviation Trust Fund previously set aside for tower projects across the country. However, many of the plans for these towers remain unapproved and the funding unspent. The new LaGuardia towers business plan has already been approved, with the final construction plan expected to be finalized next month. Schumer today said that using this money is the most expedient approach toward getting the project started.