St. Pete Airport Spends Stimulus Money On New Air Traffic Control Tower

Albert Whitted Airport broke ground on a new control tower in May. The new tower replaces one built in the 1950s that originally served as a naval observation tower.

The condition of the original tower is such that it is well beyond its usable life, says Richard Lesniak, Albert Whitted's manager.

A $2 million FAA grant as well as "stimulus" funding through the American Recovery and Reconstruction Act made the construction possible.

Lesniak says the Tampa Bay region's diversity gave it the boost needed to compete for funding. "Because the Tampa Bay Area has such a wide variety of businesses and industries, it increases the amount of opportunities to apply for these types of grants," he says. "And the fact that this project was a shovel-ready project that was already two-thirds funded made it the perfect candidate for the stimulus funds."

The new tower, situated 250 feet from the original, is being built to sustain winds up to 130 mph. The planned tower is almost 10 feet taller than its predecessor, and will contain offices, an employee lounge and a generator. Construction is slated to be completed by Spring 2011.

Owned by the city of St. Petersburg, Albert Whited handles approximately 80,000 general aviation aircraft operations each year and is the home base to an estimated 185 aircraft. Over the last decade the FAA, Florida Department of Transportation and the city have invested nearly $7 million into the airport facility. Completed projects include The Hanger restaurant and lounge, an intermodal general aviation center and terminal, refurbished hangers and a new helicopter parking ramp. An additional taxiway and aircraft parking are also planned.

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Source: Richard Lesniak, Albert Whitted Airport

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