MANASSAS, Va. (WDVM) — The Manassas Regional Airport’s air traffic control tower is almost 60 years old. It was a hand-me-down from a Colorado airport in the early nineties, and now the airport is appealing to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for a new one.
Airport Director Juan Rivera says a new tower would cost between $6.5 and $7.5 million. The airport funds all tower maintenance, but Rivera says most of its issues aren’t repairable.
Since the airport lengthened the runway by 500 feet in 2012, the entire strip hasn’t been visible from the tower. Rivera says the tree line is taller than when the tower was installed, so some directions are harder to see than others. Updated technology is too big for the control tower, and Rivera says the air conditioning can’t keep up with the current electronics’ heat output.
Rivera says the airport also needs security upgrades. The tower backs up to a public parking lot, separated by a chain link fence.
The city has hired someone to work on the project full-time and to reach out to local lawmakers on the airport’s behalf.
“Having someone directly involved over the last couple of months will elevate the discussion,” Rivera said. “Certainly, we have got great responses from our legislators that understand the problem and are working the best they can to solve the issue.”
On Monday, a spokesperson for Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) said staff from her office toured the airport and met with air traffic controllers.
“Congresswoman Wexton is currently in communication with the FAA as well as the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to work toward replacing the air traffic control tower,” Communications Director Amir Avin said.
The airport hopes the FAA will pay for the full cost of a new tower. Its second option is to come to a 20-year bond agreement between the FAA and the City of Manassas.