Dubuque Regional Airport considers control tower options - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque Regional Airport considers control tower options


The Dubuque Regional Airport faces four options as the June 15 closure of its air traffic control tower approaches.

In a response to the congressionally-mandated budget cut called sequestration, the Federal Aviation Administration announced in March it plans to close 149 air traffic control towers nationwide. Dubuque's is the only one in Iowa.

Airport manager Bob Grierson prepared an update for the Dubuque City Council, which the members heard Monday night at their regular meeting. In it, he outlined four options for dealing with the imminent loss of the control tower.

First, he said the airport can simply let the tower close.

Next, Grierson said the airport and city officials can keep pushing lawmakers to pass legislation to save the tower.

Third, Grierson said the airport can sue - and, in fact, is suing, through the airport's trade group - the FAA. Grierson said he doesn't anticipate the suit to yield any positive benefits before the June 15 deadline, however.

Finally, the airport and Dubuque community can fund the air traffic control tower themselves, which Grierson said is his least favorite option.

"It starts at about $500,000 a year for operating costs on the contract," Grierson said. "I don't have $500,000. I don't just keep that kind of money in the pot and I know the city has other obligations as well."

Grierson's recommendation to city council members was to, "push our legislators to keep the ATCT open, be a party in a lawsuit against the FAA and we are formulating a final course of action to locally fund ATCT operations."

He said he and others involved with this process assume the local operation of the tower will likely be the action they have to take, so that's why they are currently looking for ways to fund that.

"I need to reiterate," he wrote, "whether the Tower is open or closed, we will not lose air service as a result of the FAA's decision."

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