Control towers at small airports to stay open

May 10, 2013 12:19:23 PM PDT
The Transportation Departments says 149 control towers, including those at Sugar Land and Lone Star regional airports, will remain -- open at least through Sept. 30.

The department sent out a brief statement Friday. It says Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has determined there is enough extra money, under a bill passed by Congress last month, to keep the towers open through the end of the budget year.

The towers are operated by contractors for the Federal Aviation Administration at low-traffic airports.

They were scheduled to close June 15 as part of the FAA's plan to accommodate automatic spending cuts required by Congress.

That plan immediately raised concerns, including the impact on safety and the potential financial effect on communities that rely on airports as key economic engines for attracting businesses and tourists.

Sugar Land city leaders were not only worried about the impact on safety, but the economic fallout. Sugar Land has grown to more than 80,000 people, and dozens of Fortune 500 companies use the airport, where clearing customs can go more quickly.

"Closing that tower is a really bad option," Sugar Land Spokesperson Doug Adolph told Eyewitness News earlier last month. "This airport is not a highway to nowhere. It's not somebody's special port project. It's an important part of the economy."

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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