Perry: Texas should fund air towers cut by feds

March 27, 2013 9:01:30 PM PDT
Gov. Rick Perry wants the Texas Department of Transportation to step in with funding for air traffic control towers at 13 small airports to go unstaffed due to federal budget cuts.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that Perry on Wednesday sent a letter asking the Texas Transportation Commission to provide 90 days of emergency assistance to keep the control towers open.

The Federal Aviation Administration last week released a list of 149 cuts nationwide as it seeks to cut $637 million from its budget for the fiscal year that ends in September. The plan has raised concerns, including its impact on safety and the potential financial effect on communities that rely on airports as key economic engines for attracting businesses and tourists.

State officials estimate the towers would cost $7 million a year to keep open but Perry called the towers part of a "vital safety network."

Sugar Land city leaders are 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 this 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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