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Page 120
A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
W. H
Chapter 6
making a case that the new runway was all
talk. If I couldn't get the runway built, I had a
significantly weaker argument for forcing the
LCRA to reroute its power line. If the airport
opening was delayed due to a lack of action
on Atmos Energy's part, it might give LCRA
ammunition to use against me. If that hap-
pened, I would have a very real problem on
my hands.
Frank and I crafted an e-mail to Atmos En-
ergy in which we basically said that we had
done our part and now it was time for Atmos
to do theirs. Just before hitting the "send"
button, I asked Frank to include a sentence
hinting at legal action if they didn't follow
In trying to get my head around the delay,
I reviewed a pile of old e-mails. What I dis-
covered was that back in September, seven
months earlier, Thomas Holley had asked
Frank McIllwain for a list of documents re-
quired before the company would move
ahead. These documents included drawings
showing the existing grade, site maps, utility
plans, and the location of railroads, creeks,
and streets, and a copy of the property deed.
Frank didn't supply the items. Somewhat
rashly, I shot off an e-mail to Frank all but
accusing him of not supplying Atmos En-
ergy with what they needed. I was wrong of
course. Frank had sent the items, or all but
one, as it turned out, and the delay had little
to do with any requested documents. Atmos
Energy and its subcontractors had much of
the pipe materials on hand and all the worry
was for naught, which still didn't explain why
it had taken months to begin construction.
According to Tom Holley, in a subsequent
e-mail, pipe materials were in hand, fittings
reserved, and bids for the work were expect-
ed any day. He assured me the relocation was
on schedule for a December completion, pos-
sibly even November.
The Price Keeps Climbing
Atmos Energy was in the natural-gas trans-
portation business and not in the construction
business. The company subcontracted out all
the excavation work--trenching, welding and
micro-maneuvering 750 feet of polyethylene-
coated, hardened steel so that point A lined
up with point B. In July bids finally arrived
in which we discovered the formal costs had
risen from $2.2 million to $2.7 million. Very
quickly, I had to come up with an additional
half million dollars.
In a sense I was partially responsible for
the increase.
I had recently asked for a change to the
specifications. I wanted to see what it would
cost to extend the amount of pipe lowered
from 750 feet to 850 feet just in case I ever
decided to widen the space between runway
and taxiway. In conversations with aviation
friends, I heard rumblings of possible chang-
es in FAA runway and taxiway requirements.
True or not, I could foresee the FAA extend-
ing the offset between runway and taxiway
up to 500 feet. The offset was measured from
centerline of runway to centerline of the par-
allel taxiway. The idea was to design an object
free zone between aircraft on the runway and
aircraft moving in the opposite direction up
the taxiway, making a collision all but impos-