New air traffic control tower OK’d for Ellington Airport

Ellington Airport plans to build a new $12.4 million air traffic control tower to replace its existing tower, starting later this month. Approval for the project came on a unanimous Houston City Council vote March 8.

When it is completed next year, it will replace the current tower, which was built in 1955 and damaged in Hurricane Ike in 2008. Afterwards, the 60-year-old tower will be torn down.

At 143-feet, the new structure will be nearly twice as tall as the current tower, and, besides new weather observation and communications equipment, it will have a mission control area for spaceflights at the future spaceport and also include a utility building, utility yard and parking area, and the purchase and installation of navigational and communication equipment necessary.

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

Some $9.3 million will come from Houston Airport System revenue with $3.1 million from a state grant. “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,” said Houston Aviation Director Mario C. Diaz.

The new tower is vital to the continuation of all Ellington Joint Reserve Base military and aviation missions, and all other general aviation activities, Machuca said. The Ellington JRB is utilized by the Texas Air National Guard, Texas Army National Guard and the Coast Guard as aviation operational centers and hubs of distribution supporting federal and state civil authorities.

The new structure will be built adjacent to the current tower, which will remain in use until the new structure is completed. Work on the project is expected to begin in four to six weeks, and the new tower is expected to be operational by the end of next year.

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