BOISE -- It was almost seven years ago that designers started drawing up plans for a new air traffic control tower at the Boise Airport. Thursday, that tower and something called TRACON were officially dedicated.
The tower itself was finished years ago, but all the equipment is now installed. And that equipment has the latest technology that allows for better and more efficient communication with planes. Also, because of the height, it's three times as tall as the old tower, and there's better sight lines for controllers. That means everyone flying in and out of the airport is now safer.
Dignitaries from across Boise were at the ribbon-cutting Thursday. Mayor Dave Bieter was there, the Boise City Council, the chamber of commerce, Idaho's congressmen had people there, as well as the National Interagency Fire Center, the Idaho National Guard, and of course, the Boise Airport.
Why is this tower such a big deal? Boise is the most remote metropolitan area in the U.S.. In order to keep growing the economy and community here, Mayor Bieter says a state-of-the art airport and now, control tower, are crucial. "We simply have to have the infrastructure and that means the technology in particular to keep up. Like we learned today, this is cutting edge. This is some of the best in the country that's available."
"To see it finally come to culmination and come to fruition is just very, very exciting for those of us who work here. And it's also a great asset for our community and for the region," said Boise Airport Director Rebecca Hupp.
TRACON was also dedicated. That stands for Terminal Radar Approach Control and allows controllers to communicate and separate planes as far as 30 miles out. You find TRACON at major metropolitan airports, which means Boise has a major metropolitan airport. Again, Bieter says that's crucial to the city's infrastructure, especially since TRACON almost went to Salt Lake City instead. "We provide service, not just to our area, but as far away as Bozeman, Montana. So, we took what was going to be a loss and turned it into a win, not just for us, but for our whole region."
The old tower was built in 1975 and was 90 feet tall. This new tower is 255 feet to the platform where the controllers sit, and when you add the antennae on top, it is the tallest building in Idaho.