WASHINGTON — Powerful Congressional voices on transportation issues, including Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, admonished the Federal Aviation Administration for plans to shutter control towers nationwide as a result of federal spending cuts, including Spokane’s tower at Felts Field.
Cantwell joined six of her colleagues on Capitol Hill to sign a letter insisting the agency look at other options to comply with mandated federal spending cuts. The signees warn the closures, which would hit 149 towers under contract with the FAA, could have air safety ramifications that have not yet been looked at closely.
“It is deeply troubling that the agency seems intent on proceeding with the closure of key air traffic control assets absent adequate safety data and study,” the legislators wrote in a letter delivered to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta on Thursday.
The Felts Field tower was scheduled to close April 7, but the FAA delayed those plans until June 15. The Senate Commerce Committee plans to hold a hearing next week to press officials on the affect federal budget cuts would have on air safety. Huerta will be among those testifying.
Cantwell was among several Commerce Committee members who signed the letter, along with Committee Chairman Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va., Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.