The Lee County Port Authority has started the construction of a new airport traffic control tower (ATCT) and terminal radar approach control (TRACON) facility at Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW).

Located adjacent to the airport’s aircraft rescue and fire fighting station, the new ATCT will replace the existing tower that was constructed in 1982.

The overall project will cost around $80m, which will be funded by the Florida Department of Transportation and airport passenger facility charges.

Scheduled to become operational by 2022, the ATCT will be constructed by contractor Deangelis Diamond Construction.

The project is expected to create 300 jobs during its construction phase.

Lee County Port Authority executive director Jeff Mulder said: “With record-breaking passenger growth during the past several decades, the new airport traffic control tower project is a crucial investment in RSW’s infrastructure and will enhance the safety and capacity at Southwest Florida International Airport.

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“Commercial air transportation is vital to our community as it connects our region to the rest of the world and allows us access to an increasingly global marketplace.”

The height of the tower will be around 200ft from the ground to the cab roof. It will enable Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic controllers to monitor the complete airport and runway approaches, as well as a future parallel runway.

FAA Southern Region regional administrator Michael O’Harra said: “We will equip the new tower with the latest technologies so FAA air traffic controllers can continue to provide the safest, most efficient service for flights at RSW for decades to come.

“Strengthening the infrastructure at this growing airport will benefit travellers in Fort Myers and throughout the National Airspace System.”

Southwest Florida Airport handled around 9.4 million travellers in 2018 and is on target to reach ten million this year.