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Area airports to be impacted by FAA budget cuts

Saturday - 3/23/2013, 7:16am  ET

Thomas Warren, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - The Federal Aviation Administration says it will shut down 149 air traffic control towers nationwide as part of the agency's budget cuts from the sequester.

Four of the towers are at Maryland airports: Frederick Municipal Airport, Hagerstown Regional Airport, Martin State Airport in Baltimore, and Easton Municipal Airport.

Lynchburg Regional Airport is the lone Virginia airport tower set to close down, according to the announcement made Friday.

"We heard from communities across the country about the importance of their towers and these were very tough decisions," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. "Unfortunately we are faced with a series of difficult choices that we have to make to reach the required cuts under sequestration."

The FAA must cut $637 million from its operational budget. Twenty-four additional control towers that were originally part of the closing list will remain open for national security interests, officials say.

"We will work with the airports and the operators to ensure the procedures are in place to maintain the high level of safety at non-towered airports," says FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

The process to close all 149 towers is expected to take four weeks and will begin on April 7, according to agency officials.

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