GREENSBORO — The Federal Aviation Administration showcased its plans for a new air-traffic control tower at Piedmont Triad International Airport at a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday.

The $61 million tower has been under construction since April and Wednesday’s ceremony featured FAA officials, airport officials and regional leaders turning spades of dirt near a large rendering of the 180-foot tower.

Guests also included former Sen. Kay Hagan and former Airport Authority Chairman Henry Isaacson.

Steve Showfety, chairman of the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority, said in a news release that the current air-traffic control tower was opened 45 years ago. The new tower will allow the airport to add new passenger service and other new flights to the airport, Showfety said.

The FAA said the new control tower will be topped by a 550-square-foot tower cab to accommodate up to eight positions for air traffic controllers. The 15,650-square-foot base building will house what the FAA calls the Terminal Radar Approach Control, or TRACON, with up to 10 radar positions for air-traffic controllers. The TRACON controls airspace within a 60-mile radius of the airport, which includes 20 general aviation airports.

The FAA said it plans to open the tower and base building in 2022. Total cost is $61 million: $41 million for construction and $20 million for equipment and installation, cabling, telecommunications, and construction of a new communications transmitter/receiver. The cost of demolition of the existing tower and disposal of the equipment also is included in the total.

Airport Executive Director Kevin Baker said after the ceremony that the new tower will allow the airport to expand.

“It provides the ability to operate the airfield even as the airfield expands farther and farther away,” he said. The airport owns hundreds of acres it plans to use to attract industry that will be connected to the west runway by a taxiway bridge built over Interstate 73. It will allow aircraft to cross the highway to serve aerospace-related businesses on the additional land.

North Carolina is the only state where the FAA is building two new air traffic control towers, the FAA said in the news release. It will commission the new 370-foot-tall tower at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in summer 2020.

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Contact Richard M. Barron at 336-373-7371 and follow @BarronBizNR on Twitter.

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