Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base lands $18M for new air traffic control tower
By KRISTA JOHNSON | Montgomery (Ala). Advertiser | Published: November 1, 2018
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Tribune News Service) — Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base has been selected to receive $18 million for the construction of a new air traffic control tower facility, addressing a danger that has been known for years.
“Updating the air traffic control tower at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base is long overdue. I have personally climbed up the antiquated tower and can attest to how dangerous it is and how badly it needs to be replaced,” said Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., in a news release.
The issue of needing a new tower was addressed by Roby in 2014, ahead of the 2015 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill that approved $71.5 billion in discretionary funding for maintaining base infrastructure, training and equipping troops, providing housing and services to military families and for veterans’ benefits and programs.
The issue, described to the Montgomery Advertiser at the time, was that part of the runway is blocked from the tower’s view. In other words, pilots are on their own.
“We have these hangars over here at our assault landing zone where aircraft usually touch down, but we can’t see it because the hangars are right there,” said the then-traffic control officer, Airman 1st Class Anthony Morris. “We cannot give them a clearance to land in case there are vehicles there.”
Sen. Richard Shelby, chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations and its Subcommittee on Defense, pointed to Maxwell’s status as the second-busiest distinguished-visitor base in the nation and applauded the Air Force for funding the project.
“This needed upgrade will increase the base’s functionality by improving the structural conditions and enhancing the safety and visibility of all operations. Without the replacement tower, the current facility’s health and safety issues could result in ground accidents and costly damage or loss of assets,” Shelby said in the news release.
Construction is slated to begin in June 2019 and to conclude in December 2020. Montgomery’s 187th Fighter Wing was selected as the home for the F-35 Lightning II in December 2017.
“This allocation is more than a construction project — this signifies that the Air Force and our congressional delegation recognizes and supports the long-term national significance of Montgomery’s military installations, international students, thought leadership, cyber defense and business systems it supplies to the Air Force,” Mayor Todd Strange said in the release. “Along with the new MGMWerx innovation center and technology strategy, this is a key piece of infrastructure that will support the F-35 and open new opportunity for Montgomery.”