WASHINGTON -- The Transportation Department says 149 control towers at small airports, including Ogden-Hinckley Airport, that were slated for closure will remain open, at least through Sept. 30.
The department sent out a brief statement Friday. It said Transpotation Secretary Ray LaHood has determined there is extra money, under a bill passed by Congress last month, to keep the towers open through the end of the budget year.
The towers are operated by contractors for the Federal Aviation Administration at low-traffic airports.
They were scheduled to close June 15 as part of the FAA's plan to accommodate automatic spending cuts required by Congress.
Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, said he was pleased with LaHood's decision.
"This was the final confirmation we have been fighting and waiting for and I am pleased that the Administration made the right decision," Bishop said in a statement Friday. "The Ogden tower provides essential support to air traffic around Hill Air Force Base and to have closed it down would have been a serious mistake. Ensuring the safety of air spaces in and around critical air defense installations like Hill AFB ought to be a key priority."
The bill gave the FAA authority to shift up to $253 million from accounts with unspent funds to prevent further furloughs of air traffic controllers. The furloughs at all airport towers and air traffic control facilities caused widespread flight delays across the country for nearly a week before Congress stepped in.
FAA officials had previously said they needed $220 million to eliminate the need for furloughs. Congress didn't require the FAA to spend the remaining funds on keeping towers at small airports open, but lawmakers said they anticipated that the agency would use the money.
The FAA will also put $10 million toward reducing cuts and delays in its program to switch from a radar-based air traffic control system to one based on satellite navigation, the statement said.
Another $11 million will go to "partially restore the support of infrastructure in the national airspace system," the statement said.
The Standard-Examiner contributed to this report.