AUSTIN, Texas The Texas Department of Transportation said Thursday morning it intends to pay to keep air traffic control towers open at 13 small airports, including Sugar Land Regional, when those facilities lose money next month.

Houston-area airport Lone Star Executive is also on the list to receive state funds.

Gov. Rick Perry had asked the agency to step in when the federal budget cuts take place April 7. The Texas Transportation Commission saidit will approve the money at an emergency session next week.

Officials estimate it would cost about $7 million a year to keep the towers open. Perry asked the agency to provide 90 days of emergency assistance.

Perry and transportation officials say keeping the towers operating is important for safety and commerce in Texas.

Safety is the primary reason we felt a need to take immediate action for the air travelers and business aircraft that use these airports, said Commissioner Fred Underwood, Texas Transportation Commission. I am proud of our leaders for taking this extraordinary measure to ensure that those relying on these municipal airports will be able to depart and arrive safely and efficiently.

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