Senate Passes Military Construction Bill with Delaware Projects

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Joe Biden (D-DE) and Tom Carper (D-DE) announced today that the Senate has approved annual legislation to support U.S. military construction projects, including two projects worth $10 million in Delaware. The fiscal 2005 military construction spending bill passed this afternoon on a 91-0 vote. Specifically, the bill provides $9.5 million to build a new Air Traffic Control Tower at Dover Air Force Base and $740,000 to purchase 26 additional acres of privately-owned land adjacent to the base to prevent encroachment. In fiscal 2003, Congress provided $675,000 to begin work on designing a new air traffic control facility at Dover to replace the existing structure – the oldest control tower in the Air Force and one that does not provide a clear view of the airfield. When requesting the funds from the Senate appropriators, Senators Biden and Carper argued that “failure to fund this project could put air operations and personnel at risk.” “Quite simply, we are concerned that waiting on this project is dangerous to aircrews and aircraft that continue to be vital to our war effort,” said the Senators, noting that the majority of air cargo supporting operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Europe goes through Dover. “It is absolutely vital that our personnel have the equipment they need to do their jobs without endangering themselves or the valuable cargo they carry.” In addition to the control tower, this bill provides $740,000 for DAFB to purchase 26 acres of privately owned land adjacent to its main runway. The land is currently owned by National Waste Services, a company that recently pursued a plan to put a waste dump on the site, greatly increasing the risk of bird strikes for aircraft coming in and out of the base. According to the Senators, while the base and the community were able to negotiate a change of this plan, if the land stayed in private hands, the risk of a similar problem in the future remained. “This money will go a long way toward providing a solution to any problems which might occur as a result of intrusion on air space at Dover,” said Senator Biden. “The C5 is a mainstay in the effort to support our troops around the world and provide relief in the event of disasters and we have to do whatever necessary to protect those aircraft. I am confident that the state and local authorities will conclude a successful relocation of current land owners.” “We currently have the oldest control tower in the Air Force, yet we have one of the most vitally important bases on the East Coast. Updating that tower will increase air safety at the base and ensure that our pilots, crews and cargo get the best technology can offer,” said Carper. “The new tower money further demonstrates the commitment the federal government has made in modernizing Dover Air Force Base – an effort that has also included the construction of a new aerial port, as well as new housing units at the base. The money that will be used to help purchase land around the runway will also greatly contribute to the safety of Dover pilots and will help prevent future encroachment at the base.” The military construction bill must now be reconciled with a similar bill passed by the House of Representatives before it can be sent to the president to be signed into law.