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New tower at Oakland International offers improved safety, green innovation

New tower at Oakland International offers improved safety, green innovation

If you're traveling through the Oakland International Airport this holiday season, you can be thankful for an innovative combination of improved safety and environmental protection. Thanks to the Recovery Act, I’m pleased to announce the dedication of a new, 236-foot-tall air traffic control tower at Oakland International.

President Obama is committed to investing in our aviation infrastructure in order to create good-paying jobs and keep our nation competitive in today’s global economy, and our new Oakland tower is a gleaming example of that. An American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant of $33.2 million from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) helped pay for construction of the tower, as well as a 14,000-square-foot base building.

The state-of-the-art tower at Oakland gives controllers dramatically better views of the airfields--enhancing safety--and it consolidates the controllers who had been using two separate towers for more than 40 years.

Photo of Oakland Control Tower

The tower also comes with a host of green features that make it one of our aviation system's most energy-efficient and environmentally friendly structures, and I’m extremely proud that the U.S. Green Building Council has recognized these features by awarding the tower its coveted LEED Gold environmental rating.

The new tower has solar panels on the roofs of the base building and parking structure that will provide enough power to meet the facility’s daytime needs on a sunny day. An underground, geothermal system will provide heating and air conditioning using less energy than conventional systems.

In addition, an underground water storage system will capture rain runoff from the roof and provide all of the irrigation for landscaping drought-tolerant plants during the dry summer season. A light-colored roof will also reduce the amount of heat that seeps into the building by deflecting solar heat back into the atmosphere.

The total cost of the new tower, including site preparation, electronics, air traffic control equipment, utilities and installation of equipment was $51 million. Construction was completed ahead of schedule and about $2 million under budget.

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This all comes as great news to our controllers at Oakland, who handled more than 210,000 takeoffs and landings last year.

From Oakland we’ll be moving across the Bay, where we’re building a new tower at San Francisco International Airport. This will also feature significant green elements, including solar panels and the use of sustainable building materials and construction processes. So stay tuned!

Michael Huerta is Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.

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