One New Airport? Watch The Years Pass

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After the 1999 closures of Robert Mueller Municipal Airport and Austin Executive Airpark in Austin, Texas, legislation was enacted in 2001 (HB 2522) to "establish a state airport in Central Texas that is open to the general public" -- with the caveat that the existing Mueller property is not in the running.. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) held two public meetings in the Austin area this week to discuss the site-selection process for the airport. After site selection is complete, another year will be required to complete the master plan ... and another five to build the airport. After considering 20 potential locations, consultants have winnowed the field to three -- the existing Taylor Municipal Airport (T74), the tiny Bird's Nest Airport (6R4) near Manor, and an area southeast of the town of Hutto. TxDOT Aviation Director David Fulton, a pilot and aircraft owner, says the preferred idea is to build a new airport, not simply expand an existing one, to accommodate pilots displaced from Mueller and Executive plus the 580 new aircraft projected for Central Texas in the next 20 years. But the legislation doesn't mandate "new" and in any case it may come down to public support. Hutto residents -- in a standing-room-only crowd Tuesday night -- made it clear that they weren't interested in "low-flying airplanes knocking the shingles off our little Victorian houses," in the words of one landowner. Let's hope the residents of Taylor and Manor see things in a different light. Plans for a much-needed reliever airport in Central Texas are moving ahead, albeit slower than a Cub in a stiff headwind.