Detroit's City Airport could soon have 'elevator to nowhere' - New York News

Detroit's City Airport could soon have 'elevator to nowhere'

Posted: Updated:
This control tower at City Airport could become the home of the "elevator to nowhere" unless the federal government acts. This control tower at City Airport could become the home of the "elevator to nowhere" unless the federal government acts.
DETROIT (WJBK) -

For months, lawmakers did little to avoid sequester budget cuts, but after travelers complained about flight delays, Congress rushed to approve spending a quarter billion dollars to keep most air traffic controllers working.

However, ten air traffic controllers at City Airport are still facing layoffs, raising concerns about safety and government waste.  Most folks have heard of the "bridge to nowhere," that expensive Alaska span that seemed to serve little purpose.  Now, unless federal bureaucrats act fast, Detroit could soon be known as the home of the "elevator to nowhere."

Even if the streets of Detroit aren't always so friendly, the skies of the city usually are, and at times like Opening Day at Comerica Park, they can get downright crowded.

That is why we have Greg Williams.

"We're basically equated to like traffic cops," he said.

Williams is one of ten air traffic controllers keeping their eyes on the skies of the Coleman A. Young International Airport.

"We keep all of the aircraft separated," he said.

These guys in their aerial office are such a valuable asset that the feds just installed a new elevator, a new roof, new bathrooms, new carpeting and even a new air conditioning unit.  The total cost was about a half million dollars.

Now that their office is all fixed up, the feds are shutting it down, all to save a little dough as part of the sequestration budget cuts.

The tower renovations are a result of what happens when government works and plans things out.  The sequestration, that is what happens when the government has no idea what it is doing.

"It was not well thought out," said Jason Watt, who runs the airport.

But you don't need a fancy degree to size up this situation.  There are 50 takeoffs and landings every day at the airport and even more traffic created by student pilots.

"If you have a traffic intersection with no light, it kind of equates to that," Williams said.

"What happens if two planes get too close and bump each other?" I asked.

"It's an accident kind of like a car, but the difference is death," William responded.

Some blocks near the airport qualify as urban wasteland.  Others are like Maple Martin's block, tidy and well kept, and that is the way they want to keep it.

"The people in Washington don't live here.  We live here," she said.

I talked to a man that works out at Madge Park, and he is nervous even with Williams and his crew on duty.

"A lot of these planes [are] flying kind of low, kind of erratic, like they don't know which way they [are] going," he explained.

He said he has no interest in finding out what life will be like without air traffic controllers in the neighborhood.

"Whoever is in charge of this need[s] to get their act together before someone crashes into some of these... homes," he remarked.

Congress has until June 15 to save the jobs of Williams and his fellow air traffic controllers in Detroit.  If they are looking for help coming up with other places to save some dough, the fats cats and bureaucrats just might want to check in with the men who man their recently renovated control tower.

"If you had to choose between ten guys working in this tower or maybe ten less guys in Congress, what do you think is a better option for the public," I asked Williams.

"I really don't want to answer that, but I'm pretty sure you know what my answer would be," he said.

This cloud over City Airport comes with a silver lining.  Congress approved more than enough money to keep the air traffic controllers there working.  The only problem is they haven't told the FAA to use that money to keep the airport's control tower from turning into the neighborhood's latest abandoned building.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Temperature drops; snow moves in

    Temperature drops; snow moves in

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 10:59 PM EDT2014-04-16 02:59:53 GMT
    Fox 5 photoFox 5 photo
    The mild weather made an exit in the Tristate region and snow moved in late Tuesday into Wednesday. Scattered showers, heavier rain, thunderstorms, and strong winds were expected. Reports of heavy, wet snow have come in from the Hudson Valley, northern New Jersey and New York City. The snow is not expected to accumulate for very long.
    The mild weather made an exit in the Tristate region and snow moved in late Tuesday into Wednesday. Scattered showers, heavier rain, thunderstorms, and strong winds were expected. Reports of heavy, wet snow have come in from the Hudson Valley, northern New Jersey and New York City. The snow is not expected to accumulate for very long.
  • Robert De Niro says Tribeca Film Festival is his passion

    Robert De Niro says Tribeca Film Festival is his passion

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 10:47 PM EDT2014-04-16 02:47:46 GMT
    Robert De Niro is a family man, a filmmaker, an entrepreneur and one of my favorite actors of all time. He's also a co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, which has more to see than ever before. De Niro wears just as many hats on screen as he does in real life. The father of six starred in six films last year, owns four restaurants and a hotel, and still finds time each spring for the Tribeca Film Festival, Lower Manhattan's annual cinematic showcase.
    Robert De Niro is a family man, a filmmaker, an entrepreneur and one of my favorite actors of all time. He's also a co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, which has more to see than ever before. De Niro wears just as many hats on screen as he does in real life. The father of six starred in six films last year, owns four restaurants and a hotel, and still finds time each spring for the Tribeca Film Festival, Lower Manhattan's annual cinematic showcase.
  • Obama congratulates UConn on NCAA dominance

    Obama congratulates UConn on NCAA dominance

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 9:47 PM EDT2014-04-16 01:47:07 GMT
    President Barack Obama has congratulated the University of Connecticut's men's and women's basketball teams on winning last week's NCAA tournaments. The White House says Obama commended men's head coach Kevin Ollie and his team on their decisive championship victory and noted how he enjoyed watching them throughout the tournament. He told women's head coach Geno Auriemma how impressive it was to see the team continue to dominate women's collegiate basketball.
    President Barack Obama has congratulated the University of Connecticut's men's and women's basketball teams on winning last week's NCAA tournaments. The White House says Obama commended men's head coach Kevin Ollie and his team on their decisive championship victory and noted how he enjoyed watching them throughout the tournament. He told women's head coach Geno Auriemma how impressive it was to see the team continue to dominate women's collegiate basketball.
  • Latest Development in the Kilpatrick Corruption TrialMore>>

  • Bobby Ferguson sentenced to 21 years in prison

    Bobby Ferguson sentenced to 21 years in prison

    Friday, October 11 2013 3:20 PM EDT2013-10-11 19:20:27 GMT
    Bobby Ferguson, a former city contractor and longtime friend of ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, has been sentenced to 21 years in federal prison for his role in a public corruption case.
    Bobby Ferguson, a former city contractor and longtime friend of ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, has been sentenced to 21 years in federal prison for his role in a public corruption case.
  • Kwame Kilpatrick sentenced to 28 years in prison

    Kwame Kilpatrick sentenced to 28 years in prison

    Thursday, October 10 2013 9:33 PM EDT2013-10-11 01:33:28 GMT
    A federal judge sentenced former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick Thursday to 28 years in prison for his role in a public corruption scandal that cost the city millions and ended a career for the once promising politician.
    A federal judge sentenced former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick Thursday to 28 years in prison for his role in a public corruption scandal that cost the city millions and ended a career for the once promising politician.
  • Judge: Ex-Mayor Kilpatrick must pay $4.7 million

    Judge: Ex-Mayor Kilpatrick must pay $4.7 million

    Tuesday, December 10 2013 8:04 PM EST2013-12-11 01:04:30 GMT
    A federal judge has granted prosecutors' request and has ordered imprisoned ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to pay $4.7 million in restitution.
    A federal judge has granted prosecutors' request and has ordered imprisoned ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to pay $4.7 million in restitution.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices