Work stoppages are spreading among aviation construction projects across the country and construction workers are being sent home, due to a continuing fight in Washington over funding the Federal Aviation Administration.
The stoppages come after nearly 4,000 FAA employees were furloughed on Saturday because the U.S. House failed to reauthorize the FAA the day before. The halting of work will increase the cost of the projects and could delay their completion, but it won’t affect air service, the FAA said.
“People are out of work and the FAA cannot conduct necessary work to keep our aviation system competitive and moving forward,” FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said.
Projects include a $250 million initiative to design and install runway lights at airports across the country, and $20 million in contracts to strengthen air traffic towers in earthquake prone areas, the FAA said.
On his blog, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood pointed to how the stalled installation of a cab section to Cherry Capital Airport’s new control tower puts 50 construction workers out of a job. Kevin Klein, the manager of the airport in Traverse City, Mich., said about 200 people, ranging from engineers to vendors, will be hurt by the project delay, according to LaHood.
U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV on Monday called on top U.S. House Republicans to convene a conference committee by Wednesday on a bill to reauthorize the FAA. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., responded that the Senate first needed to agree on the provision to cut rural air subsidies.
House Republican say $12.5 million will be saved annually by limiting eligibility to the Essential Air Service program to airports greater than 90 miles from a medium-sized or major hub airport. Democrats denounce the measure as a political ploy to gain leverage on FAA reauthorization.