Congress chops funding for radar ''black hole'' in Colorado


Sep 3, 2002
Mar. 10 — Denver controllers refer to the loss of radar coverage over Eagle County Regional Airport, which serves the popular Vail ski resort, as a black hole. Congress, in the frantic last minutes of budget preparation, recently chopped funding for a radar system at the towered airport that would have improved coverage in the surrounding mountainous terrain. The amount was only $8.5 million, a microscopic drop in the total Department of Transportation budget, but it is the difference between some 200 planes a day either making a landing in poor weather or being turned away. The local economy lost $63 million in 2001 because of the lack of the radar system, the Vail Daily newspaper reported. The Colorado congressional delegation is hoping to restore the funding. The airport had 42,893 takeoffs and landings in 2002, an increase of 8 percent over 2001. It sits in the mountains at an elevation of 6,535 feet.