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August 05. 2011 11:02PM

Funding for FAA helps in Nashua

NASHUA — The U.S. Senate approved legislation Friday that will end the Federal Aviation Administration partial shutdown and send 42 furloughed workers from Nashua back to work.

The bill allows the FAA to resume spending through the middle of next month. An earlier failure to pass transportation funding legislation caused a two-week partial shutdown of the FAA, resulting in nearly 4,000 FAA positions being furloughed nationwide. Stop work orders were also placed on airport construction projects, affecting about 70,000 construction jobs.

Those affected by the furloughs at Nashua’s FAA facility, also known as Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center, have been out of work since July 23. The FAA is working to have them back at work on the next business day after President Barack Obama signs the bill. It is expected that the signing will be done quickly. The White House released a statement from the President expressing his pleasure with Congress’ ability to work through their differences.

“This impasse was an unnecessary strain on local economies across the country at a time when we can’t allow politics to get in the way of our economic recovery,” Obama said. “So I’m glad that this stalemate has finally been resolved.”

Three construction projects involving 48 workers at the Nashua facility were also halted during the shutdown. The $4.6 million contract involves roof repair, attic rehabilitation, and mechanical upgrades. Construction will resume as soon as the stop-work orders are lifted and the contractor can remobilize, according to the FAA.

“It’s great news that something has been resolved to get these workers back to work,” said Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau.

Lozeau said that resuming construction is a wise use of resources because projects left on hold end up costing more.

National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Paul Rinaldi said the shutdown was a “tremendously difficult time” for the workers — mainly from engineering — and their families, as well as for the construction workers whose projects were shut down due to lack of funding. He said the association will continue to fight for workers to ensure that the situation doesn’t happen again.

“We are absolutely relieved that these men and women who have suffered so greatly these past two weeks will now get to return to their important jobs and earn a paycheck that won’t be held up in another Washington political game,” Rinaldi said. “We would like to thank the administration, Transportation Secretary (Ray) LaHood and FAA Administrator (J. Randolph) Babbitt for their leadership and passionate fight on behalf of those workers who contribute so mightily to the United States having the safest and most efficient aviation system in the world. We also want to thank Congress for finishing its work and restoring full operations to the FAA and our airport infrastructure that is so integral to helping drive our economy forward.”

The good feelings may be short-lived. The legislation only allows for spending through mid-September. Congress will need to consider another FAA funding bill next month.


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