Austin GA Airport Inches Forward

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Communities around Austin, Texas, are not exactly lining up to take on a GA airport the state's capital city doesn't want and the state government has said the area must have. Eighteen months after the state passed legislation ordering construction of a new GA facility near Austin, a committee of government and aviation officials is getting set to help Cincinnati-based consultant Wilbur Smith and Associates get the process moving. In 1999, Austin closed Robert Mueller Municipal Airport and, the same year, privately owned Austin Executive Airpark shut down. That forced about 400 aircraft owners to move and, despite construction of new T-hangars at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, there remains a shortage of hangar space. One close GA airport is in San Marcos, about 40 minutes away by car. It's inviting expansion of its airport to fill the need and there are several other communities that have expressed some tentative interest in hosting a new airport. The legislation specifically requires that counties or civic governments approve airport proposals. While Austin business leaders say they need it, the city of Austin has said it doesn't want another airport within its borders. "We feel it would be best to allow another community the opportunity," Jim Smith, executive director of Austin-Bergstrom, told the Austin American-Statesman.