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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The new $19 million dollar air traffic control tower at Palm Beach International is twice as big as the old one but has sat empty for the past two years. The Contact 5 Investigators discovered it is costing taxpayers big bucks to maintain it.
Records show, since 2010, the feds have spent more than $7,000 in maintenance costs. Plus, another $100,000 dollars in electric bills. Combined with other costs, the unused tower has cost a total of $153,000 over the past two years.
"It's ridiculous," said concerned taxpayer Carol Mendola. "No one who was looking into it was smart enough," she said.
The FAA hasn't moved into the new tower yet because it was looking to move the airport's radar operations from Palm Beach to Miami. Now that that's not going to happen, workers will end up using the new tower but not until about this time next year.
But first, one million dollars in additional construction costs will be spent. The new tower wasn't built large enough to house the airport's radar facility. So the feds will have to install underground cables to connect the old tower to the new tower.
But that's just a temporary fix. They will have to construct a new building next to the new tower over the next two years to hold the radar facility. In a statement, an FAA spokesperson said they don't know how much that'll cost but the number will most likely be more than one million dollars.
An FAA spokesperson said it's crucial to keep the power going and the air running in the new facility so that the building is in good condition when workers do move into the facility.
In a statement, the FAA spokesperson wrote, "Before the FAA can commission the new tower, the agency also has to install other critical technology and communications equipment, develop specific air traffic procedures and train air traffic controllers on those procedures."
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