Mesa Gateway Airport dedicates new air traffic control tower to late Sen. John McCain

Aug 23, 2022, 4:35 AM | Updated: 2:53 pm

(Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)...

(Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)

(Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport dedicated its new $30 million air traffic control tower on Tuesday, naming it after the late U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

The tower stands 199 feet tall — 60% taller than the existing tower — and will enter into service Saturday, according to a press release.

McCain and Arizona’s congressional delegation were key players in efforts to remove the previously set $2 million federal funding cap for construction of the control towers, the release said.

“Completion of the John S. McCain III Air Traffic Control Tower is the culmination of years of hard work and determination by our local, state and federal leader,” Gilbert Mayor Brigette Peterson, chair of the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Authority, said in the release.

“This bipartisan effort will help Gateway Airport continue to grow and create high-wage jobs across greater Phoenix.”

U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton and Sen. Mark Kelly were among the dignitaries on hand for Tuesday’s dedication event.

The new cab is twice as large as the existing tower, at 550 square feet, with eight controller positions.

The current ATCT is too short and its cab is too small to handle aircraft operations at a growing airport.

While it took 18 months to complete the project, efforts to make a new tower started nearly a decade ago and would require a change in federal law before plans could move forward.

“We are grateful for the U.S. senators and representatives that worked tirelessly over several years to enable federal funding for this critical airfield infrastructure project,” Airport director J. Brian O’Neill said.

“Gateway Airport plays an important role in Arizona’s air transportation system and now contributes more than $1.8 billion each year to the regional economy.”

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Mesa Gateway Airport dedicates new air traffic control tower to late Sen. John McCain