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City of Renton considers lawsuit over closure of airport tower

By DEAN RADFORD
Renton Reporter Reporter
April 2, 2013 · 4:50 PM
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The tower at Renton Municipal Airport is set to close April 7 unless Congress acts to end the federal sequester. / Brian Beckley/Renton Reporter

The City of Renton is considering legal action over the planned closure this month of the control tower at Renton Municipal Airport by the FAA.

"We do anticipate taking some legal action by the end of this week," Mayor Denis Law said Tuesday.

He doesn't know yet whether the city would join another lawsuit against the FAA or file one of its own. Spokane Airports filed a lawsuit against the FAA last week over the closure of the tower at Felts Field, which is separate from Spokane International Airport.

The purpose of a lawsuit would be to stop the FAA from closing the tower until federal officials can resolve their budget issues, he said.

Closure of the tower, he said, is "primarily a public safety concern."

Beginning at 8 p.m. Sunday, April 21, there will be no traffic controllers in the Renton tower.

Renton Airport would remain open, but all airplanes, including the 737, would need to maintain visual contact with other craft landing or taking off from the airport and on the ground as well.

The airport is the sixth-busiest in the state, measured in takeoffs and landings.

The city doesn't have the money to operate the control tower on its own, Law said. It's estimated it would cost $400,000 to $450,000 a year to maintain the operations of the tower at its current levels.

The tower is one of 149 the FAA plans to close to help balance its budget that was cut because of federal sequester.

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