Construction is well underway on the new air traffic control tower and customs facility at Cobb County Airport — McCollum Field with both projects to be complete in early 2015.
Construction on the new $2.9 million air traffic control tower and $800,000 customs facility began in September, and Karl Von Hagel, airport manager, said the tower is expected to open Jan. 30. The customs facility should accept its first flight in late spring.
The 78-foot tower is being built by Ft. Lauderdale, Florida-based Moss & Associates and will be about 20 feet taller than the existing tower.
“The control tower is progressing well,” Von Hagel said. “We’re within budget and we’re on schedule.”
The tower’s shaft is already in place, and the cap is being constructed on the ground. Von Hagel said construction of the two parts is nearly complete, and later this week, the cap will be lifted onto the tower.
“We expect it to be a seamless transition. And then two months after that will be the demolition of the old control tower and renovation to the base building of the old control tower.”
The base building is attached to the old tower, built in 1994, and is used for airport administration and the tower manager’s office, Von Hagel said. The tower manager’s office will move to the new tower after it opens, leaving the base building solely for airport administration, he added.
The construction of the tower is funded by a $1.25 million federal grant and a $125,000 grant from the state. The county will pay the remainder — about $1.53 million — from its general fund.
Von Hagel said the customs facility is also progressing according to plan.
“The walls are constructed,” he said. “The roof’s going on this week, and it’s on schedule and planned for an opening in late spring, hopefully to accept its first flight.”
Commissioner Helen Goreham, who represents the Kennesaw area and sits on the airport advisory board, said the new facilities are equipping the airport for the future.
“We’re ready for additional progress to take place at the airport,” Goreham said.
While Goreham has only been on the airport advisory board for two months, she made the recommendation the board be created so all those with a stake in the airport — the county, pilots at the airport, the fixed-base operator and the city of Kennesaw — could have a say in its future and report back to the Board of Commissioners.
“Like any other asset, I thought an advisory board would be a benefit to the airport and the community,” she said.
Von Hagel said the airport, which is owned by the county, has seen about 70,000 flights in 2014 to date. A 2010 state economic study concluded the airport has an annual economic impact of $112.4 million and supports 842 jobs in the nearby community, Von Hagel said.
“We have to keep in mind that this is a major economic engine for the county,” Goreham said.