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Mon, Aug 02, 2004

Groundbreaking For New Tower At AirVenture '04

Two-year operational target date for "busiest tower in the world"

By ANN Contributors Rose and John Dorcey

Excitement was in the air as Winnebago County, State of Wisconsin and federal officials broke ground today for a new air traffic control tower at Wittman Regional Airport, Oshkosh (WI). Officials at the ceremony spoke highly of the governmental cooperation at all levels. FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said that the new tower would be truly "state of the art" and would service a true wonder of air traffic control like AirVenture. The Wittman Regional Airport tower becomes "the busiest air traffic control tower in the world" during the annual AirVenture fly-in.

Towering over the existing three-decade old, 67-foot facility that is currently in operation, the new 125-foot (controller eye level) structure will be about twice the height of the existing one, offering controllers unobstructed views of the entire airport.  Construction will begin in early 2005 with an expected completion date of summer 2006.

"The new tower will provide a 'boost' to air traffic controllers who will have a better view of the activities at the airport," said Frank Busalacchi, Secretary of the Wisconsin DOT. "It will also provide a boost to the economy of the entire region, and will enhance safety for those using this airport throughout the year, as well as during the AirVenture event. Our Governor Jim Doyle clearly understands and supports efforts like this that encourage economic development and  promote public safety."

The project began nearly four years ago as a joint state and local effort. It has since grown into a five million dollar federally-funded project. The tower will include a 6,000 square-foot ground facility that will house offices, conference and training areas along with maintenance, utility and storage spaces. The new tower cab will be sixty percent larger than the existing one and will contain state-of-the-art electronics.

Architects for the project are Omni Associates of Appleton (WI), who are teaming with PBS and J of Coco (FL). Omnni will design the entire tower facility and will build the ground facility. PBS and J, known as air traffic control tower experts, will handle the tower and cab portion of the project. The two firms are working closely with engineer Dave Johnson, Wisconsin DOT Airport Project Manager for Wittman Regional Airport. 



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