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FAA to close 149 air traffic towers

CHICAGO – The Federal Aviation Administration says it will close 149 air traffic control towers at small airports around the country because of federal budget cuts.

Towers in Gary and Columbus, Ind., are among those on the list. None of the closing towers are in northeast Indiana or northwest Ohio, according to a listing distributed by the agency. Small Ohio airports in the Columbus and Cleveland areas will also lose their towers, the list said.

The agency announced the decision Friday, a month after it released a preliminary list of facilities that could be closed.

All of the affected airports will remain open. Pilots will be left to coordinate takeoffs and landings among themselves over a shared radio frequency with no help from ground controllers. That’s something they are trained to do, but airport directors have raised concerns about the potential impact on safety.

In an accompanying statement, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta says the agency will take steps to ensure safe operations at the affected airports.

The Journal Gazette contributed to this story.

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