Colorado GOP Lawmakers Urge Look at DIA Closure

Four incoming state House Republicans have asked the Democratic chairwoman of the transportation committee for a hearing to review recent blizzard-related problems at Denver International Airport.

Problems at DIA, which closed for 45 hours just before the Christmas holiday, need to be addressed before Colorado's snowiest months hit, the lawmakers said.

Rep.-elect Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, cited a Rocky Mountain News story that examined four other airports in the wake of similar snow events, finding that the longest closure - at the Buffalo, N.Y., airport - was 12 1/2 hours.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul airport closed for about three hours; the Salt Lake City airport closed for 7 1/2 hours and JFK Airport in New York City closed for from four to eight hours.

"It is imperative that the hearing is not an occasion for finger-pointing, but rather an opportunity for a constructive dialogue between legislative leaders and city officials," the four Republicans wrote in a letter to Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West.

McFadyen, director of the House Transportation and Energy Committee, said Wednesday that she welcomes a hearing, and has asked the Republicans who they would want to attend.

"We should care about DIA," she said.

"It's our biggest airport, and if they need our help, we need to know."

The Republicans noted in their letter that the state has a "vested interest" in making sure that Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and his administration have investigated the closure and that they have a plan to prevent future lengthy closures.

Sue Cobb, the mayor's spokeswoman, said they hadn't seen the letter.

Back-to-back blizzards hit Colorado just before the Christmas and New Year's holidays. Thousands of Christmas travelers, in particular, were affected.

The four Republicans who wrote the letter have been assigned to serve on the transportation committee when they take office next week. They are McNulty; Don Marostica, of Loveland; Spencer Swalm, of Centennial; and Jerry Sonnenberg, of Sterling.


Other airport closings

Here's a sampling of how long (in hours) other airports have been closed after snow events similar to the one that shut down DIA for 45 hours:

12.5 Buffalo Niagara International Airport

3 Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

7.5 Salt Lake City International Airport

4-8 John F. Kennedy International Airport

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