The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the US Air Force have now given their formal approval. The approval comes after eight years of preparation for the project, which is the largest ever undertaken in the 70-year history of the Tucson Airport Authority (TAA).
The Airfield Safety Enhancement projectincludes demolition of a narrow and short general aviation runway to be replaced by a full-length parallel runway, construction of new taxiways and connector taxiways, installation of aircraft guidance systems and modernising the geometry of the airfield to the latest FAA safety standards.
“The safety enhancements will make Tucson International Airport one of the very safest airports in the country,” said Bonnie Allin, president and CEO of the Tucson Airport Authority. “This investment continues our goal of growing one of this region’s most important assets – Tucson International Airport, not only for today, but to serve our region’s future.”
TAA’s vice president of planning and engineering Mike Smejkal added: “The basic construction of this airport was done more than 60 years ago and, just like a highway project that needs to be updated and widened, it’s time for us to the same for this airport.”
Integral to the project are some land transactions that include transferring about 58 acres of US Air Force land to the TAA for the parallel runway safety area, moving 160 acres from the TAA to the Air Force to provide a safety buffer for Raytheon’s Plant 44, and replacing munition storage bunkers. In addition, local government entities are interested in purchasing approximately 290 acres of TAA land to make it available to Raytheon for potential future expansion.
Construction of the multi-year, multiphase projects is due to begin in 2020, with all work expected to be completed in 2024-2025.