GREENSBORO — The Federal Aviation Administration showcased its plans for a new air-traffic control tower at Piedmont Triad International Airport at a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday. 

The $61 million tower has been under construction since April and Wednesday's ceremony featured FAA officials, airport officials and regional leaders turning spades of dirt near a large rendering of the 180-foot tower. 

Guests also included former U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and former Airport Authority Chairman Henry Isaacson.

Steve Showfety, current chairman of the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority, said in a news release that the current air-traffic control tower was opened 45 years ago.

The new tower will allow the airport to add new passenger service and other new flights to the airport, Showfety said. 

The FAA said the new control tower will be topped by a 550-square-foot tower cab to accommodate up to eight positions for air traffic controllers. The 15,650-square-foot base building will house what the FAA calls the "Terminal Radar Approach Control", or TRACON, with up to 10 radar positions for air traffic controllers. The TRACON controls airspace within a 60-mile radius of the airport, which includes 20 general aviation airports.

The FAA said it plans to open the tower and base building in 2022. Of the $61 million total cost, $41 million will be for construction and $20 million for equipment and installation, cabling, telecommunications, and construction of a new communications transmitter/receiver. The cost of demolition of the existing tower and disposal of the equipment also is included in the total.

North Carolina is the only state where the FAA is building two new air traffic control towers, the FAA said in the news release. It will commission the new 370-foot-tall tower at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in the summer of 2020.

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Contact Richard M. Barron at 336-373-7371 and follow @BarronBizNR on Twitter.

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