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TxDOT to fund air traffic control services

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

Federal sequestration, or across the board budget cuts, will lead to the loss of air traffic controllers at a number of small Texas municipal airports.

Stepping in to ensure safety at 13 of those airports, the Texas Department of Transportation announced this week that it intends to fund continued service of air traffic controllers when federal funding goes away.

Control towers are set to begin closing on Sunday, April 7. This action is pending Texas Transportation Commission approval at an emergency meeting set for 9 am, today, April 4, at 125 E. 11th Street in Austin.

"Safety is the primary reason we felt a need to take immediate action for the air travelers and business aircraft that use these airports," said Commissioner Fred Underwood. "I am proud of our leaders for taking this extraordinary measure to ensure that those relying on these municipal airports will be able to depart and arrive safely and efficiently."

"Flying is an integral part of commerce in Texas," said Phil Wilson, TxDOT executive director. "Local communities are counting on these airports to remain open for continued economic success."

Airports that could receive state funding to continue safe operations include:

New Braunfels (BAZ); Brownsville (BRO); Easterwood Field College Station (CLL); TSTC Waco (CNW); Lone Star Executive Houston (CXO); Georgetown Muni (GTU); San Marcos Muni (HYI); Dallas Executive (RBD); Sugarland Regional (SGR); Stinson Muni San Antonio (SSF); Collin County Regional (TKI); Tyler Pounds Regional (TYR); and Victoria Regional (VCT).

Grand Prairie Municipal and Fort Worth Spinks airports remain funded under a federal agreement until Sept. 30.