Air control towers at the regional airports in Columbia and Branson are on the Federal Aviation Administration chopping block.
Jefferson City’s small airport was on the original list of closures, but the revised list shows that one will remain staffed.
The towers in Columbia and Branson will close sometime between April seventh and May seventh according to a letter from the FAA.
The closures are a result of the sequestration, and the FAA has largely kept the closures limited to 149 airports throughout the U.S. that have only a single runway. A manned tower is necessary when more than one airplane is taking off or landing.
Click HERE to see the full list of tower closures.
West Central Missouri Congresswoman Vicky Harzler, who represents Columbia, says she’s disappointed by the decision.
“This decision is disappointing not only because it presents a safety concern, but it is unwise from a budget perspective as Columbia’s tower is part of the Contract Tower Program that is cost-effective for taxpayers,” Harzler says in a press release. “There is plenty of waste that can be trimmed by administrators implementing the budget sequester and there is absolutely no need to put Columbia workers on unemployment because of the Obama Administration’s poor choices on where to cut.”
U.S. Senator Blunt also says it’s a disappointing decision.
“These towers were operational in 2009 when the FAA received less funding than they will under the sequestration – further proving these closures are irresponsible and unnecessary,” Blunt says. “Federal spending has skyrocketed 19 percent since 2008. There’s no reason the Obama Administration shouldn’t be able to figure out a 2.5 percent spending cut without interrupting Americans’ lives and air travel to communities like Branson and Columbia.”
Blunt’s office says a report published last summer by the Department of Transportation Inspector General found that the Contract Tower Program was one of the most efficiently run programs in the FAA.
“Notably, the report also showed the specified towers in the FAA Contract Tower Program were all operational in 2009, when the FAA received less funding than they will under sequestration,” Blunt’s office says.