Plans call for replacing the existing control tower at Gabreski Airport...

Plans call for replacing the existing control tower at Gabreski Airport Tower in Westhampton Beach, which dates from the 1940s. Credit: John Roca

The Biden administration has awarded $4.9 million to Suffolk County to replace the decades-old air traffic control tower at Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach, officials said.

The funding award, part of the Federal Aviation Administration's Airport Terminal Grant Program, represents about 30% of the more than $16 million requested by the county for the tower project. 

Another $3.35 million has already been secured in state and federal grants, records show. The remaining $7.76 million needed to complete the project, county officials said, is expected to come from the FAA or Gabreski's fund balance. 

The control tower at the county-run airport was built in the 1940s and has outlived its usefulness and no longer meets federal requirements, according to the FAA.

“Investing in our aging infrastructure, like the air traffic control tower at Gabreski Airport, ensures the safety and efficiency of air travel, while also contributing to the growth and prosperity of our communities,” Suffolk County Executive Edward P. Romaine said.

The county expects to go out to bid on the project in the summer and to break ground in the fall.

In total, the FAA announced $970 million in grants Thursday to modernize 114 airports across the United States, including wider concourses, larger security checkpoints, improved baggage systems and additional gates to accommodate more plane service. The other two New York airports receiving funding are in Albany and Buffalo.

“All of these investments are going to help us meet the growing demand for air travel that we're seeing across the country,” Natalie Quillian, White House deputy chief of staff, said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the improvements will be seen and felt by passengers.

“We all know that a flight doesn't just begin when you settle in your seat on board,” Buttigieg said. “First you're in the terminal and your experience depends in many ways on the condition of the terminal building.”

Gabreski, which has three runways, is utilized by private aviation, corporate businesses and air taxi services and is home to the 106th Rescue Wing of the Air National Guard.

The existing 75-foot tower would be replaced by a new 164-foot tower, county records show. The existing tower will remain in service until the new tower is completed.

The project also includes about 22 acres of tree and vegetative clearing required by the FAA for proper visibility from the tower.

In 2022, the FAA awarded Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma $14 million through the Airport Terminal Grant Program to upgrade the airport's main terminal utilities and fire and safety systems, and for energy efficiency upgrades.  

With Laura Figueroa Hernandez

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