ATM Modernization, Commercial

FAA Shutdown Drags Into Sixth Day

By Tish Drake | July 28, 2011
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FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt

Construction and technology contractors for airport infrastructure modernization projects have been told to stay home this week as the partial FAA shutdown enters its sixth day.

The agency furloughed more than 4,000 employees on Saturday after Congress failed to pass a funding authorization bill. Congressional inaction has halted dozens of major projects ranging from long-term runway safety initiatives to the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) research and testing, FAA said. Additional  halted projects include runway status lights, air traffic tower earthquake protection and weather research, according to FAA.

The shutdown is costing the government $200 million a week in lost revenue, according to reports.

“I am making a simple and straightforward request to Congress: pass a clean FAA bill and immediately put thousands of FAA employees, construction workers, planners and engineers across America to work,” said Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “In these tough economic times, we can ill afford to lay off hard-working Americans whose families depend on them.”

“The real world implications of Congressional inaction are serious,” said Randy Babbitt, FAA administrator. “People are out of work and the FAA cannot conduct necessary to keep our aviation system competitive and moving forward.”

FAA warns more construction layoffs could happen, if the shutdown persists. “Without congressional authorization and as a result the FAA is unable to get roughly $2.5 billion out the door for airport projects in all 50 states that could put thousands of people to work in good paying jobs,” FAA said.

“So for them [construction workers] this is like running into a brick wall, and they’re asking me, ‘How do we explain this to our families?’ I don’t know what to say to them,” Lucca Toscano, vice president of Paul J. Scariano construction firm, told the Department of Transportation blog, Fast Lane.

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