DOYLESTOWN, Pa. — Members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation are lobbying federal aviation officials to give the commonwealth equal weight with New York when choosing a site for a new air traffic control facility.
Pennsylvania’s two U.S. senators, Democrat Bob Casey and Republican Pat Toomey, and nine U.S. House members have sent a letter to Federal Aviation Administration head Michael Huerta urging the consideration of properties in the eastern part of the state, The (Doylestown) Intelligencer (http://bit.ly/131Xx6Q ) reported Monday.
The lawmakers say several private sites could house the facility and federal installations that would fit the bill are in areas with lower costs of living and an existing security presence that could save money.
“Moreover, many of these sites are also closer to New York City than Albany, which we understand your agency is considering,” the letter said.
None of the sites was named, but Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., told the newspaper that the former Willow Grove Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base fits the criteria outlined by the agency.
“It’s an outstanding site, close to major road and transportation infrastructure,” he said, citing Route 611 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike. “There’s easy access to a well-developed community with a well-educated workforce and a very good quality of life.”
In July, the FAA said a new air traffic control center serving the busy New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia metropolitan areas would be built somewhere in New York. Officials said a decision on an exact location was still probably many months away.
The FAA has announced a $2.3 billion modernization plan that will consolidate 49 aging air traffic facilities in the Northeast down to four by 2023. The Transportation Department’s inspector general said in a report that the consolidation effort is part of the FAA’s program to replace deteriorating and outdated equipment.
Huerta said FAA employees would be consulted in the decision on where to locate operations. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association issued a statement last summer urging that the facility remain on Long Island.