CIRA board takes legal steps to keep air traffic control tower open

By Marshanna Hester

CIRA board takes legal steps to keep air traffic control tower open

March 28, 2013 Updated Mar 28, 2013 at 10:29 PM CDT

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- A lawsuit filed in Washington, D.C. seeks to stop the Federal Aviation Administration from closing the control tower at Central Illinois Regional Airport.

Airport officials say the FAA failed to follow federal statutes and its own guidelines before making a decision.

They hope a judicial review will buy them time to initiate other options to keep the tower open in case the cuts happen.

If those cuts become a reality, the airport plans to take control of the tower. That's estimated to cost $400,000 to $500,000 a year.

Officials say funding is in place to start the project, but would only last a few months.

Executive Airport Director Carl Olson says it is too early to know if that cost will eventually be passed on to air travelers.

"You have to recognize that taking on this cost is approximately a 15 to 20 percent increase in unbudgeted expenses in a budget year that's already underway," Olson said. "Ideally though, we will manage it much better I think than how the federal government is managing its sequester cuts."

CIRA is one of nearly 150 airport control towers set to close because of sequestration. CIRA's control tower is set to shut down May 5th.

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