Thu February 28, 2013
Sequestration: Airports & the border
Changes could be on the way for the traveling public both in the air and on the ground if the $85 billion worth of spending cuts take effect as planned.
Washington's across the board sequestration cuts set to begin Friday may take a month to kick in, but when they do, the FAA could end shutting down the control tower at Niagara Falls.
Douglas Hartmayer, NFTA spokesperson, points out that overnight flights there are currently handled by air traffic controllers at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
"Spirit Airlines operates well past 11 p.m. because their flights are scheduled into the morning hours. Those flights are guided in and out by the Buffalo tower," said Hartmayer.
But that tower is also on the FAA's list of facilities that could be closed overnight.
Hartmayer says the small number of flights into Buffalo past midnight could be handled elsewhere. He believes if airport screeners are furloughed, checkpoints could still be properly staffed.
The bigger headaches are likely to be felt by motorists traveling between the U.S. and Canada. U.S. Homeland Security is expecting to eliminate nearly 8,000 U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees if the cuts go through.
"It would not be a good picture at the borders," said Niagara Falls Bridge Commission's Brent Gallagher.
Gallagher says he hopes Congress and the Obama Administration will find a solution.
Congressman Brian Higgins urged his colleagues in the House Wednesday to take immediate action to repeal the sequester.
Higgins said $1.5 billion in goods and 300,000 people cross the border everyday.
"In addition to the job losses this could mean delays at our border crossings," said Higgins.