Cantwell seeks review of airport tower closures

Yakima Herald - Staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A group of U.S. senators is asking the Federal Aviation Administration to keep air traffic control towers open at airports across the country, including the one in Yakima.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., announced that she and six other senators — both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and House of Representatives — sent the request Thursday to the FAA and the U.S. Transportation Department.

The FAA has scheduled closure of the 149 towers for June 15 due to federal budget issues. The selected towers are operated by contract staff.

The lawmakers asked the transportation agencies to look for lower-priority areas where spending could be cut.

“The decision to shutter contract towers on such a wide-scale basis is unprecedented,” the letter stated. “It is deeply troubling that the agency seems intent on proceeding with the closure of key air traffic control assets absent adequate safety and study. We recognize that the FAA faces difficult choices, but in this instance we remain opposed to the FAA’s actions and will continue to urge action to keep contract towers open and operational.”

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta is scheduled to testify Tuesday before a congressional committee regarding the affects of the budget cuts.