Senator Mark Kelly visited the Tucson International Airport (TUS) on Tuesday, August 1, to receive an update on the federally funded Airfield Safety Enhancement (ASE) Project.
His visit comes as the U.S. Senate prepares to reauthorize funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA.)
During his visit, Kelly announced more jobs and economic opportunities from the program, as future funding is committed.
Planning for the program began in 2012.
Construction began two years ago to transform the airfield layout so it can meet the latest safety standards established by the FAA and minimize wrong surface landings.
The program will demolish the existing general aviation runway and construct a new parallel runway doubling the width and adding 3,000 feet in length, as well as eliminating so-called “hot spots” or areas that cause confusion for pilots.
Kelly said the existing general aviation runway needs to be replaced.
“With what I would call a more normal-sized runway that can support commercial aviation and the F-16 from the 162nd Guard unit, this is a safety issue, not only for the Guard but for the public as well and for general aviation,” Kelly said.
The largest anticipated project in the program is a new commercial runway, which is not currently funded.
President and CEO of the Tucson Airport Authority (TAA) Danette Bewley said the economic impact from the airport, the TAA, and Ryan Airfield (RYN) is $8.3 billion dollars a year.
From that about 42,000 jobs are generated, Bewley said.
The TAA estimates the completion of the program within the next four years.
Since the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL,) TUS has received more than $44 million for the completion of the ASE.