TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The largest project in Tucson International Airport history is underway. This morning, officials broke ground on a multi-million-dollar project set to enhance airfield safety.
After 14 years of planning, Tucson International Airport will now have a full-length commercial runway.
“You can increase traffic, increase tourism here, the Air National Guard and their training is going to be able to improve,” said U.S. Senator Martha McSally.
The 300-million-dollar ''Airfield Safety Enhancement Project'' is set to reconstruct an existing runway and add a second full length commercial runway with a center taxi way.
“Separation is paramount and we have some areas in our airfield that can be confusing to pilots and the FAA terms them as hotspots. So this project will eliminate the hotspot and confusion for pilots,” said Tucson Airport Authority CEO, Danette Bewley.
She added right now, due to that confusion, pilots are misunderstanding air traffic control and landing or crossing the wrong area. According to the Federal Aviation Association , the airport has had 200 runway incursions over the past decade.
“Because we’re going to have two parallel runaways, the airfield efficiency should increase. It’s going to be 150 feet wide by 11-thousand-feet long, much larger than the current one,” said Bewley.
She assures the project will allow planes to depart and land faster while providing a sustainable airport system and increasing economic activity in the region.
“It’s going to create a lot of jobs for the next few years. It’s going to keep our people working and the timing for that is perfect when people really need a stable job,” Bewley emphasized.
Ninety-percent of funding will come from the FAA, the rest will be funded by the airport authority and the International Guard .The project is expected to be completed in five years.
The last time the airfield was designed was 60 years ago.