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Airport moves forward with tower construction

Boulder City is moving forward with building an air traffic control tower at the airport, and construction could begin at the end of 2022.

“Safety is our No. 1 concern here,” said Marissa Adou, manager of Boulder City Municipal Airport. “The purpose of the … tower is to provide a safety enhancement to the airport, to the users and to the passengers that fly in and out of BVU each year. The tower will provide an added layer of safety to the airport.”

In April 2018, the airport was approved to participate in the Federal Aviation Administration’s control tower program, meaning it could install an air traffic control tower. A tower is also part of the airport’s master plan update approved by City Council in 2018.

“Once the tower is staffed with air traffic controllers they will coordinate the takeoffs, landings, ground traffic and aircraft in flight within five miles of the airport,” said Adou. “Their primary purpose is to prevent collisions, organize and expedite the flow of air traffic. In addition, they can provide information and support for pilots.”

According to the city, the FAA determined the increasing number of arrivals and departures at the airport without a tower was concerning as well as the fact that both planes and helicopters arrive and depart at the same time.

In December 2020, then Airport Manager Willy Williamson said the airport had “well over 100,000” airport operations during the year. He said in his first four months on the job he had seen five near mid-air collisions between aircraft and a control tower would help prevent them.

Adou said the construction could begin after a tower siting study and design plans are complete.

“We hope construction will start before the end of next year, 2022,” she said. “No word on how long construction could take.”

The tower will cost over $5 million to construct, but almost 95 percent will be provided through an FAA grant. The remaining amount will come from the airport fund, according to Adou.

Once the tower is installed, the city will be responsible for maintaining it.

Adou estimated that cost to be $50,000 annually, and it would also come out of the airport fund. She said the fund as it is now can incorporate that cost.

“Staffing will be the responsibility of the FAA Contract Tower Program, at no cost to the city,” she added.

On Monday, Nov. 15, an in-person open house about the tower will be held at City Hall, 401 California Ave. from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Airport staff and airport consultant Kimley-Horn and Associates will be there to answer questions about and discuss the project.

Those who are unable to attend can submit questions or concerns at AirportAdmin@bcnv.org.

Since it was first announced, the tower has been met with disagreement from Mayor Kiernan McManus, who said he believed there are better ways to improve airport safety than installing a tower.

Other City Council members approved of moving forward with it.

The airport is also eligible to receive $1.8 million annually in grants from the FAA to help provide a safe environment for the flying public, according to the city.

“The annual award goes toward FAA eligible airport improvement projects that enhance safety, security and environmental concerns,” said Adou.

Look, up in the sky…

Ron Eland/Boulder City Review

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