When President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he said it would make a difference in communities across the country. And, on Friday, when we broke ground on a new air traffic control tower for Oakland International Airport, we delivered on that promise.
Construction of the new tower will employ 650 workers. It will make the airport's taxiways, runways, and skies safer. And it will continue the Port of Oakland's proud progress toward greener, cleaner efficiency.
This new control tower, funded by $33 million in Recovery Act money, is also FAA's single largest project. And it is an investment that makes sense.
First, the new tower will be 50 feet taller than the airport's existing facilities. Greater elevation means better visibility for our controllers, and better visibility translates into safety.
Second, building a taller new tower will allow the airport to consolidate the two existing towers and the crews needed to operate both into a single building. This means better communication and coordination among air traffic controllers.
And these efficiency gains will also benefit customers at the Bay Area's other airports. Between San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, air traffic controllers provide service to tens of millions of passengers flying into and out of the region every year--any step to improve efficiency at one airport has the potential to improve efficiency at all three major airports and the many airports they connect to.
Third, we will work to achieve a U.S. Green Building Council LEED Gold environmental rating for the new tower and base building:
- The new facility will be green right from the start. The goal for this project is that 30% of the building materials will come from recycled material. I think that’s impressive.
- The completed building will also feature solar panels to provide electrical power.
- We're building an underground, geothermal system that will provide heating and air conditioning for the facility. Because the underground temperature remains constant at around 60 degrees, it will take less energy to heat and cool the building.
- An underground water storage system will capture rain runoff from the building roof and will provide all of the irrigation for the facility's landscaping.
But the indirect dividends of this investment are also important. All around me at Oakland International on Friday were the sounds of commerce. Planes taking off and landing. Equipment rumbling. Baggage trucks shuttling. Passengers driving or taking BART in and out of the airport.
And a safe, efficient, green airport helps stimulate that kind of economic activity. But it also means that Oakland area businesses can count on a transportation infrastructure that supports their activities--like flying a sales force in and out of the area, bringing in customers, or shipping goods.
All of these direct and indirect benefits are exactly what President Obama had in mind when he committed his administration to making a difference through the Recovery Act. And we at FAA are proud to help demonstrate that commitment.