HAMMOND — The long-awaited construction of an aircraft control tower at Northshore Regional Airport moved closer to reality with the passage of two measures by the City Council.
The council accepted a $1.677 million bid Tuesday from Spartan Construction Co. to build the tower on the west side of the airport near the main terminal.
The council also agreed to borrow up to $350,000 from the city’s sales tax fund for the tower construction.
That loan will be repaid with proceeds from the sale of a 17-acre city-owned tract near the airport.
Mayor Mayson Foster has said the appraised value of the land is close to the amount to be borrowed from the sales tax fund.
Foster said construction should start by early November and may be completed in about five to six months.
Once finished, the facility will be operated by air traffic controllers from the Louisiana Army National Guard’s air operations center at the airport.
Foster said the primary objective for the tower is safety.
“We now have various types of aircraft ranging from blimps, regional jets, smaller private planes, helicopters and other aircraft using the airport,” the mayor told the council.
“Add to that the significant military air traffic now at the airport with the National Guard and the U.S. Customs Service and it is imperative that we have a control tower.”
Foster predicts the tower will have a large economic impact, with a potential boost in air traffic once the airport has a controlled airspace environment.
At this time, the nearest control towers to the Northshore Regional Airport are at New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
The tower is funded with an $800,000 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration, a $750,000 grant through the state’s Capital Outlay fund and contributions from the city of Hammond.