Airports Come And Go

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They're Expensive To Replace...

What happens when you close perfectly good GA airports that serve hundreds of pilots and planes in a metropolitan area? Chances are you'll have to spend tens of millions on a new one. Flying folks in Austin, Texas, were horrified when both Austin Executive and Robert Mueller Municipal Airport were closed in 1999 after the new Austin Bergstrom International Airport opened. It didn't take state officials long to realize they'd carved a big hole in their transportation infrastructure by closing them and enacted a law requiring a new one be built. Well, even in Texas, 700 acres near good highways and away from people who don't want an airport near them isn't that easy to find. State officials have identified 15 potential sites, including some existing airports, to put the 7,000-foot runway and attendant facilities. The cost? About $55 to $65 million. Although 15 sites are listed, there are really only a few that are suitable. AOPA says they're most likely located in Williamson County to the east of Interstate Highway 35. More detailed study will nail down the top three and then full airport master planning can begin. It's hoped that will happen by the end of October. "We continue to move closer to providing critically needed general aviation capacity in the Austin area," said Bill Dunn, AOPA VP of airports.