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Airport Towers in St. Cloud, Eau Claire, Marquette Among 149 Closing

Posted at: 03/22/2013 4:15 PM

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CHICAGO (AP) - The Federal Aviation Administration says it will close 149 air traffic control towers at small airports around the country because of federal budget cuts.

The agency announced the decision Friday, a month after it released a preliminary list of facilities that could be closed.

All of the affected airports will remain open. Pilots will be left to coordinate takeoffs and landings among themselves over a shared radio frequency with no help from ground controllers. That's something they are trained to do, but airport directors have raised concerns about the potential impact on safety.

In an accompanying statement, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta says the agency will take steps to ensure safe operations at the affected airports.

In Minnesota, air traffic control towers slated for closure are at St. Cloud Regional Airport and Anoka County-Blaine Airport.

St. Cloud Regional Airport Director Bill Towle says five jobs will be lost when the tower at his airport closes April 7. He says the airport "is certainly not going to be as safe" without the tower.

The Wisconsin airports are in Eau Claire, Janesville, Kenosha, La Crosse, Milwaukee's Lawrence J. Timmerman, Mosinee, Oshkosh and Waukesha.

In Michigan, the affected airports are W.K. Kellogg in Battle Creek, Coleman A. Young in Detroit and Sawyer International in Marquette County's Sands Township.

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