RONKONKOMA, NY (WCBS 880) – A new state-of-the-art control tower was dedicated at the growing MacArthur Airport on Long Island Friday.

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(credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

The first thing you notice when you look at the old  wooden control tower, built in 1963, is the difference in height.

The new $20 million air traffic control tower is more than 50-feet taller than the old one and FAA administrator Randolph Babbitt says that helps with safety and efficiency.

“The additional height gives a lot of visibility so they can see over new construction that’s come about,” he told WCBS 880 reporter Sophia Hall.

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The airport is the fifth busiest in New York. As air traffic grew at the airport it was clear to officials that the old tower had to go. Babbitt said MacArthur handles 155,000 take-offs and landings per year.

“Anything that used to prevent us from seeing taxiways or actually the entry point of the runway, all of those obstructions are no longer in our way,” said Air traffic manager Dana Rose Kelley.

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Rose Kelley said the old tower’s roof leaked when it rained, the area was smaller, and sometimes there was no heat in the winter.

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“[We’re] really happy. All of the modern technology that has been added to our new building, I mean, it’s incredible how we can walk into a building, lights come on and come off. We can walk in, water, automatic systems,” she said.