Palm Springs Replacement Tower Schedule Questioned

The FAA says Palm Springs International Airport is set to get a new control tower. The agency just isn’t going to start construction until 2010. Senator Barbara Boxer told the Palms Springs Desert Sun she is glad the airport she uses on a regular basis to travel from her residence in Rancho Mirage to Washington, DC is going to get the tower, but she will push the FAA to begin construction sooner. Boxer told the Sun she shares credit for the bill approving the new tower between herself, Representative Mary Bono and FAA administrator Marion Blakey. Bono’s chief of staff Frank Cullen said, “We expect that if FAA announced 2010 that they stick to that date or move in an expeditious manner so that this project happens sooner.”

The original bill approving the funding listed a construction date in 2007.

In September the FAA told the Sun Palm Springs International was on a list of airports slated for new towers, but won’t say where it ranks on the priority scale other than to say it’s somewhere in the middle of a field of 33.

Airport officials have petitioned the FAA for many years for a new tower saying controllers need a more modern and taller tower to better control traffic at the airport. The airport’s current tower is nearly 40 years old.

Earlier this month Bono asked congress to earmark $8.5 million to pay, in part, for the new tower — funds that failed to make it into last year’s Republican-controlled congressional budget.

Congress approved $2.3 million for the tower last year, but Bono wants another $6.8 million FAA grant to renovate the airport’s taxiways.

Palm Springs served over 1.5 million passengers last year. Controllers say the tower’s height and location doesn’t give them a sufficient view of the main runway.

With Democrats now in control of Congress, there’s no telling whether their flexing muscles will have any effect with the FAA on its priority list… but at least Palm Springs has the money for a new tower.

FMI: www.faa.gov

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