Ellington Airport breaks ground on new air traffic control tower

$12.4 million project to be completed by end of 2018, officials say

Ellington Airport new tower groundbreaking
Ellington Airport new tower groundbreaking

HOUSTON – Officials broke ground Monday on a new tower control at Ellington Airport.

Mayor Sylvester Turner and Aviation Director Mario Diaz were there for the ceremonial groundbreaking of the $12.4 million project that will replace the existing tower, which was built in 1955 and damaged in Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Officials said the new, state-of-the-art air traffic control tower will be 143 feet, nearly twice as tall as the existing tower, and will feature an automated weather observation system. The airfield's lighting-control system will also be updated to a more robust and reliable system.

“This is an important step forward for Ellington Airport, and a critical project to ensure the vital aviation operations based there can be carried out safely and efficiently,” Diaz said.

City Council approved a plan on March 8 that calls for the use of the $3.1 million Defense Economic Adjustment Assistant Grant from the state and $9.3 million from the Houston Airport System Airport Improvement Fund. In addition, the project is eligible for $2 million in grant funding through the Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement Program.

Officials said the tower is vital to the continuation of all Ellington Joint Reserve Base military and aviation missions. The Ellington JRB is used by the Texas Air National Guard, Texas Army National Guard and the Coast Guard as aviation operation centers and hubs of distribution supporting federal and state civil authorities.

The current tower will remain in use until the new one is completed and in operation, which is expected to be by the end of 2018.

“Construction of this tower shows the commitment the Houston Airport System has to Ellington and its future and furthers our support for our military partners at Ellington,” Ellington Airport General Manager Arturo Machuca said.

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