To locals in Western North Carolina, the Air Traffic Control Tower (ATC) at Asheville Regional Airport is iconic. The tower, part of the airport terminal building, sits center stage. It has been in use for more than sixty years, and is one of the oldest operating towers in the U.S.
At their November meeting, the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority Board approved a construction contract to build a new ATC. The contract was awarded to Kokolakis Contracting for an estimated cost of $44 million. Kokolakis Contracting is a 50-year-old company with extensive experience in ATC construction, including construction of towers in Southwest Florida, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale, New Orleans and Long Island.
The new ATC at AVL is needed for several important reasons. First, the tower and its associated facilities have exceeded their useful life. Of note, the existing tower was built in 1961, and lacks the height to meet more current line-of-sight standards for air traffic controllers. Second, a new tower must be constructed so the existing tower can be demolished to make room for airport expansion.
“For several years, we have been working with the Federal Aviation Administration and Pond, our architectural firm, to design a new tower,” said Lew Bleiweis, A.A.E., President and CEO. “It is exciting to take this step and award a construction contract. We will break ground in early 2023.”
The new ATC will be a free-standing tower and FAA office building located near the southwest area of the airport’s property, across the airfield from the airport terminal building. The airport expects to begin construction in early 2023.
The project will be funded with airport funds and a $15 million grant awarded this year through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.