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Congressman Gene Green

Representing the 29th District of Texas

Green, Gulf Coast Lawmakers Call for Accelerated Decision on New Air Traffic Control Facility at Intercontinental Airport

July 19, 2002
Press Release
Washington, DC - Congressman Gene Green, along with other Gulf Coast members of Congress, sent a letter today to FAA Administrator Jane Garvey calling for a timetable to be set for the construction of a new TRACON facility at Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH).  The current TRACON, located underground, was recently flooded causing over a hundred flight cancellations and stranding thousands of passengers.  This facility is responsible for all landings and takeoffs at the airport, and controls traffic below 15,000 feet in a 30 mile diameter around Intercontinental.
We desperately need to build a new air traffic control center that will be designed to stand up to the constant weather hazards we face here in Houston, said Green.  Discussions have been ongoing for three years now and it is time we set a schedule for this project.
There has also been proposals to move the new TRACON center to a location outside of IAH grounds.  However, early estimates put the cost of such a move at more than $25 million.  Houston Airport Systems has provided several locations on IAH property where a new, above-ground facility could be constructed.
The majority of traffic in Houston airspace arrives and departs from IAH, said Green.  The responsibility for monitoring and directing traffic should remain there.
The letter was signed by Green, along with Texas members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Reps. Max Sandlin,, Eddie Bernice Johnson, and Nick Lampson.  Texas Reps. Jim Turner, Sheila Jackson-Lee and Louisiana Rep. Chris John also signed the letter.
# # #
July 19, 2002
The Honorable Jane Garvey
U. S. Department of Transportation
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Avenue Southwest
Washington, D.C.  20591-0004
Dear Administrator Garvey:
    We are writing to express our concern over the recent flooding of the TRACON at Houstons Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH).  This event, which forced the cancellation of over 100 flights, the diversion of many others, and which stranded or delayed thousands of passengers, illustrates the need for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to act quickly on choosing a site for a new facility.
    Even before this flooding, there has been a need for a new TRACON at Intercontinental Airport, which serves more than 35 million passengers per year, and is the nations ninth-busiest airport.  It is also one of the main gateways to the expanding Latin and South American markets, where passenger volume is expected to continue its rapid increase.
    Moreover, the existing structure was built back in the late 1960's, and has passed the point of obsolescence.  A new center is badly needed, and would offer the FAA the chance to construct a facility designed to resist the hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, and other inclement weather which frequently occurs in Houston.
    Houston Airport Systems (HAS) has already spoken with the FAA on this matter and provided several locations where sufficient land is available for a new, aboveground center.  However, judging by the three years that these discussions have already taken, a timetable for action must be established, or no progress will occur on this project.  We encourage the FAA to set such a timetable, and move this project forward as quickly as possible.
    There has also been some discussion of moving this facility and its operations from Intercontinental Airport.  Early estimates on the cost of this move off airport property  are estimated to be at least $25 million, and that estimate only deals with physical infrastructure, such as the cost of extending fiberoptic cable to a distant location.
    We oppose any attempt to move this function to a location away from Intercontinental Airport.  The majority of traffic in the Houston airspace arrives and departs from there, and the responsibility for monitoring and directing that traffic should remain there.
    Swift action is needed to ensure that a disruption of this magnitude does not occur again.  We look forward to your response on this urgent matter, and will continue working with you on this and other important concerns.
Gene Green
Eddie Bernice Johnson          Nick Lampson
Max Sandlin                       Ken Bentsen
Sheila Jackson-Lee           Chris John