The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced Tuesday that it is dropping a plan that would have moved control of a radar system known as TRACON from the Boise Airport to Salt Lake City, Utah. The federal agency previously believed that the move would save money, a notion challenged by members of Idaho's congressional delegation and Boise Mayor Dave Bieter.
In 2005, the FAA released a study which estimated that moving control of TRACON, which handles planes between 5 and 65 miles within the Boise Airport, would have saved $24 million during the next 25 years. The congressional delegation successfully contended that the move could compromise traveler safety. If the FAA had decided to make the change, it would have also meant the loss of several high-wage jobs.
Idaho's senators welcomed the announcement by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This is the best solution in terms of cost and safety for southwest Idaho air traffic control. Additionally, it will preserve good-paying jobs at the Boise Airport as we build toward future growth and development," said Sen. Mike Crapo. Idaho's junior senator, Jim Risch, chimed in with his praise of the move. "Leaving the TRACON in Boise was the right decision for the FAA to make. From a cost and efficiency standpoint the facts are clear that leaving the radar operation in Boise was the only decision they could make," Risch said.
Idaho's two congressmen, Republican Mike Simpson and Democrat Walt Minnick, also lauded LaHood and the FAA for the decision. "This is great news for Idaho travelers and for Idaho's economy ... Not only will passengers be more certain of safe travel, but the men and women who keep them safe will continue to do their jobs in Idaho and help keep our economy on the road to recovery," Minnick said. "I was pleased to speak directly with the secretary today and am glad that the FAA has made a decision that looks to the best interests of Idahoans and is based on facts instead of best guesses,” said Simpson. “With this decision behind us, I am hopeful that we can look forward to ensuring that the Boise Airport can continue to support economic growth in the Treasure Valley.”
Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, who led the charge to keep TRACON in Boise, said the federal government made the right decision for Idaho and its citizens. "By keeping TRACON here, we will preserve high quality local jobs, ensure continued safety and convenience for travelers and protect the airport's position as a major hub for aviation and commerce. I applaud the FAA for keeping this important asset in Boise. This victory is the result of four years of hard work by Idaho's congressional delegation, the late Ed Stimpson, former U.S. ambassador and Boise Airport commissioner, and the city of Boise. It's time to celebrate," said Bieter.