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Texas to pay to keep 13 small airport towers open

The Texas Department of Transportation says it will pay to keep air traffic control towers open at 13 small airports when those facilities lose federal money next month.

Gov. Rick Perry had asked the agency to step in when the federal budget cuts take effect beginning April 7. The Texas Transportation Commission said Thursday that it will approve the money at an emergency session next week.

The Texas towers are among 149 nationwide that have been targeted for closure by federal officials who say they must cut more than $600 million in transportation spending.

Texas officials estimated that it will cost about $7 million a year to keep the towers open. Perry asked the agency to provide 90 days of emergency assistance.

Perry and Texas transportation officials said keeping the towers open was important for safety and business in the state.

Airports can remain open without a tower, but pilots must coordinate takeoffs and landings among each other on a shared radio frequency without the help of a local controller.