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FAA delays air tower closures as Renton considers lawsuit
Just days after the City of Renton said it was considering legal action over the planned closure of the control tower at Renton Municipal Airport, the FAA announced it would delay closures until June.
The Federal Aviation Administration announced on Friday, April 5, that it would be delaying the closure of 149 air traffic control towers around the United States.
The delay is until mid-June in order to give the Obama administration time to deal with legal challenges.
The City of Renton has been considering legal action over the planned closure of the control tower.
The Renton closure was scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. on Sunday, April 21.
“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.”
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 that 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 that the FAA plans to close to help balance its budget, which was cut because of federal sequester.
Dean Radford is the editor of the Renton Reporter, a sister paper of the Mercer Island Reporter.