The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday it will close 149 air traffic control towers due to federal budget cuts.
In Minnesota, the St. Cloud Regional Airport and Anoka County-Blaine Airport are affected by the FAA closures, which will take effect after April 7. Control towers at the Crystal Airport and Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie will remain open.
Wisconsin airports affected by the FAA cuts include: Chippewa Valley (Eau Claire), Kenosha, Southern Wisconsin Regional (Janesville) and La Crosse Municipal Airport.
"We will work with the airports and the operators to ensure the procedures are in place to maintain the high level of safety at non-towered airports," said FAA administrator Michael Huerta.
The FAA decided to keep 24 federal contract towers open that had been previously proposed for closure because doing so would have a negative impact on the national interest. An additional 16 federal contract towers under the "cost share" program will remain open because congressional statute sets aside funds every fiscal year for these towers.
"We heard from communities across the country about the importance of their towers and these were very tough decisions," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Unfortunately we are faced with a series of difficult choices that we have to make to reach the required cuts under sequestration."
The national interest considerations included:
- Significant threats to national security as determined by the FAA in consultation with the Department of Defense or the Department of Homeland Security.
- Significant, adverse economic impact that is beyond the impact on a local community.
- Significant impact on multi-state transportation, communication or banking/financial networks
- The extent to which an airport currently served by a contract tower is a critical diversionary airport to a large hub.
See the full list of airport control tower closures at http://www.faa.gov/news/media/fct_closed.pdf