Mercer County learned that an appropriations bill filed Jan. 14 by the House and Senate Appropriations Committee includes $140 million in full, dedicated and statutorily protected funding for the contract air traffic control tower program.
Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes said “This is a big victory for contracted towers nationwide, and an enormous step toward securing what will hopefully become permanent funding for the contracted air traffic control tower at Trenton-Mercer Airport.”
The FY ’14 omnibus appropriations bill must now be passed by the House and Senate and signed by the President.
“Mercer County is appreciative of the congressional leaders for their recognition of the vital significance of these contract towers for airports like Trenton-Mercer and the other 251 airports nationwide that depend on contract towers,” Hughes said.
The air traffic control tower at Trenton-Mercer Airport was among the 189 contracted towers funded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that was facing elimination or reduced tower operations as a result of federal spending cuts, known as the sequester.
The FAA permitted small airports such as Trenton-Mercer Airport in Ewing, where Frontier Airlines began commercial flights a little over a year ago, to explain why elimination of funding for control towers “would adversely affect the national interest.”
County Executive Hughes aggressively appealed to the FAA and to Washington to continue funding for the tower, citing the implications of possible detrimental impact to the Mercer County economy and safety of local airspace. The airport experiences 85,000 takeoffs/landings per year and has received perfect marks, known as “zero deficiencies,” from the FAA, according to Hughes.