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Government shutdown affecting air travel, national park safety

Posted at 6:52 AM, Jan 05, 2019

DENVER, Colorado — If you are planning on hiking in a national park or head to the airport to travel this weekend be prepared. Federal workers are warning that the government shutdown is starting to impact safety.

"For air traffic controllers, you only get one take,” said James Marinitti with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. “They work in a mistake-free environment where we are expected to be right 100 percent of the time.”

With 3,000 air traffic support staff being told not to come to work there are fewer safety inspectors. That can lead to delays like repairing runway lights that guide pilots to the installation of new technology that helps controllers communicate with pilots.

"Radar, preventative maintenance -- these types of things that will get delayed as the shutdown continues because the workers are not there to keep the system healthy," Marinitti said.

TSA employees are among the thousands of essential government workers required to show up without pay. Senior officials have confirmed with CNN that hundreds of TSA employees are calling out sick since the shutdown.

We reached out to the TSA at Denver International Airport about the impacts but have not heard back.

At Rocky Mountain National Park, visitors are arriving only to be disappointed.

“We are out here to visit. We see the sign and realize it's closed. We came all the way from Vancouver, Canada, and it's kinda disappointing,” said Stanley Marayan.

Trash cans are locked up at the park and roads are closed because there are no workers to plow them.

The National Park Service is warning visitors to use extreme caution during the shutdown because emergency services are limited. At Yosemite National Park, one death wasn’t reported for a week because of the government shutdown.

"America is great. We want to explore America, so for us, I think this is crazy they are closing the parks. Nature is beautiful here," Marayan said.