Pa. lawmakers accuse FAA of favoring NY for air traffic control center

Eleven members of Pennsylvania's congressional delegation have called on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to consider Eastern Pennsylvania — and not New York — as a site for a new $220 million air traffic control center.

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The letter, from Pennsylvania's two senators and nine members of the House, is a reaction to the FAA's consideration of locations within 150 miles of New York City for the new facility, which will serve New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia. 

The letter said the FAA is unfairly giving consideration only to sites in New York, even though locations in Eastern Pennsylvania would serve just as well.

"It seems unfortunate that your agency is taking viable options like those in Pennsylvania off the table given that the Department of Transportation's Inspector General has noted that past FAA consolidation efforts have not produced the cost savings initially anticipated," members wrote in their letter to Acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. The letter was announced Monday, but dated last week.

The letter said several sites in Pennsylvania have much lower costs of living compared to New York. Locating the center in Pennsylvania would therefore lead to "significant cost savings," it said.

"Accordingly, we request that you allow additional time for the consideration of sites in Pennsylvania that are within 150 miles of New York City," it added. "We hope you agree that the FAA should select a site which fits the operational needs of the country's modernization efforts that also brings the best value to taxpayers."

The FAA announced last July that the new control center would be placed in New York. Huerta was accompanied by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other New York House members on a tour of a Long Island airport that could serve as the site.

Schumer reportedly said in July that he was told by Huerta the facility would be in New York, and more specifically on Long Island.

"Our message is clear: the FAA needs to make Long Island the final destination for this new state-of-the-art air traffic control center," Schumer said then.

The Pennsylvania letter was signed by Sens. Bob Casey (D) and Pat Toomey (R), and Pennsylvania Reps. Lou Barletta (R), Matt Cartwright (D), Charlie Dent (R), Michael Fitzpatrick (R), Jim Gerlach (R), Tom Marino (R), Pat Meehan (R), Scott Perry (R) and Keith Rothfus (R).