The Tucson International Airport has received a green light from Washington for a massive runway improvement project.
The $218 million facility upgrade will see the construction of a full-length parallel runway replacing a shorter current general aviation runway.
What is being called the largest such airfield project undertaken in the history of the airport will additionally include the construction of new taxiways.
The project, which has been eight years in the making, has now received the approval of both the Federal Aviation Administration as well as the U.S. Air Force.
As part of the project, just under 60 acres of land owned by the Air Force will be transferred to the Tucson Airport Authority to provided needed space for the parallel runway safe area.
At the same time, the Tucson Airport Authority will be handing over 160 acres to the Air force with the goal of providing a safety buffer for the Raytheon Missile Systems plant and office complex located on the south side of the airport.
Although the Tucson airport, spanning nearly 8,000 acres, traces its roots to 1919, it entered the modern age in 1963 with the construction of a new terminal.
Today it has three operating runways and three helipads.
If all goes according to plan, design work on the runway expansion effort will begin early next year, with actual construction starting sometime in late 2020.
The new full-length parallel runway is expected to become operational by no later than early 2023.
Located around eight miles to the south of downtown Tucson, the Tucson International Airport is the second largest airport in growing Arizona, handling up to four million passengers a year.
By Garry Boulard
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