Massachusetts congressional delegation renews call to keep FAA towers open at small airports

WASHINGTON — The Massachusetts congressional delegation is once again pushing to keep open six air traffic control towers in the state that are in jeopardy due to the lack of a long-term budget deal.

With the government now running on a ``continuing resolution’’ after the government shutdown this fall, the Federal Aviation Administration has the option of closing local air traffic control towers. Massachusetts’ legislators want to avoid that possibility, which was averted earlier this year after lawmakers approved temporary funding.

Citing the “critical” services that air traffic control towers provide for aviation safety and cutting costs for some smaller airports in the country, 10 lawmakers — led by Senator Edward Markey and Representative Stephen Lynch — sent a letter to the FAA last week urging the agency to keep towers open.

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“We continue to feel strongly that safety, security and economic well-being should not be jeopardized,” the lawmakers wrote.

Bay State legislators wrote a similar letter to members of the House and Senate committees that oversee budget appropriations, encouraging their support for funding specified for the towers while negotiating the upcoming fiscal year year 2014 appropriations bill.

In March, the Beverly, Lawrence, New Bedford, Norwood, Westfield-Barnes and Worcester towers, which are run by FAA contractors, were targeted for closure because of automatic, across-the-board sequester cuts, which were put in place to end a congressional budget impasse. However, a short-term bill was passed through Congress and funding specifically for the towers was restored through Sept. 30. Now, the money needs to be renewed, requiring more pressure by lawmakers in individual states.