WNCT: Kinston Global Transpark traffic tower facing 2014 cuts

By Alex Freedman, Weekend Anchor 

KINSTON, N.C. -They’ve dodged the axe but they’re not off the chopping block just yet. The federal budget allowed the traffic control tower at the Kinston Global Transpark to stay open until October of next year but after that, it’s all up in the air.

“This tower has been open since 1974. A lot of other towers in this state have been open a lot of years. You just can’t shut them down overnight,” said Kinston Global Transpark Air Traffic Manager John Greene.

Last January that is exactly what sequestration was forcing the Federal Aviation Administration to do. Greene was one of the first to get the news.

“We were one of the 149 federal contract towers that were due to close right away,” said Greene.

If the control tower were to be shut down, that would be more than 10,000 military operations that no longer come to the global transpark.

“The fighters basically said, unless we have a dire emergency, we can’t come here without a tower,” said Greene.

Greene says it wouldn’t just be the military affected. The 11,500ft runway is the longest civilian runway in the state. In fact, it’s one of the longest on the east coast meaning 757’s and f15’s, to forest official’s operations, to 911 operations and even Air Force One uses these runways.

All of it managed from a farseeing control tower, now seeing into an uncertain future.

Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy sent a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory calling the loss of the tower a “major detriment to continued growth and development for this entire region.”

“What will it take to get it back? That’s a serious concern to the economic impact and liability to the future of the global transpark here in eastern North Carolina,” said Murphy.

“I think they realized they can’t just up and close the control towers like this. The people want them there,” said Greene.

The operations of the tower are including in the 2014 fiscal year budget which has yet to be approved. That budget ends Sept. 30th and there is currently no outlook for continued funding.