The “deteriorating” Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control tower at Tampa International Airport might soon be replaced, Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, announced Monday.
Federal money could be set aside to replace the 50-year-old control tower in Tampa from President Joe Biden’s 2024 fiscal budget. The budget proposes $662 million to replace seven FAA towers — including Tampa’s — but didn’t specify how much each project would get.
“It has been apparent for a number of years that we need a modern tower,” Castor said at a news conference at the airport Monday.
The air traffic control tower has dealt with air conditioning trouble and an elevator going out, making workers climb up the stairs in the Florida heat. It also had electrical and sewage issues.
Workers should be focusing on monitoring flight traffic, said Jen McCoy, local chapter president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, and not be worried with unsafe working conditions. McCoy added that flight traffic is growing in the area and an updated tower would also help meet the demands of a busier airspace.
Castor said she discussed with Biden the need for a new FAA tower during his visit to Tampa in February after his State of the Union address, touting how Tampa International exceeds most airports in almost every department yet its tower does not meet current standards.
“‘I’m going to take care of this,’” Castor recalled Biden telling her on the trip.
Tampa International CEO Joe Lopano said Monday that as “America’s favorite airport” he wants the replacement to also be “America’s favorite control tower.”
“You got to give (air traffic controllers) better working conditions,” said Lopano. “And this is a start.”