Building on momentum in the Texas House of Representatives, AOPA staff members will be in the capitol next week to seek Senate support for a bill that would free up funding and create a badly needed airport near Austin.
House Bill 2656 successfully passed the Texas House last week and has moved on to the Senate. Continuing an effort that goes back years, AOPA Vice President of Airports Bill Dunn and AOPA Southwest Regional Representative Shelly Lesikar will be working with senators prior to the legislature's scheduled May 30 adjournment.
In the early 1990s, the City of Austin began planning to close Robert Mueller Field, an airport that served general aviation exceptionally well with its close location to the city, and transfer both GA and commercial operations to the distant former military airfield at Bergstrom Air Force base. Local pilots and AOPA recognized that that would not serve GA well and began lobbying to keep Mueller as a GA-only facility. The city promised - but never delivered - equal facilities for GA at Bergstrom. So AOPA began efforts to get a new GA airport built.
In 1999, AOPA nearly succeeded in getting a bill that would have required the state to take over Mueller, downsize it, and operate the airport as a strictly general aviation facility.
In the 2001 legislative session (the Texas legislature meets every other year), AOPA helped get House Bill 2522 passed and signed by the governor. That started the Texas Department of Transportation on a project to identify sites for a new airport. Unfortunately, local officials wouldn't approve any of the three locations TDOT had picked. This latest bill reenergizes the process of building a new airport.
May 5, 2005