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Page 126
A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
W. H
Chapter 7
ers sticking up into your approach path.
On Wednesday, November 7, 2007, I heard
from Garver Engineer's Frank McIllwain
that the runway layout was complete. Frank
e-mailed me a drawing of the site plan super-
imposed over an aerial photo of the airport
property. The background was a mass of
greens and on top of all that green was a clot
of computer generated ink-black lines--sol-
id for runway and taxiway, dashes and dots
for property lines, long dashes for runway
approach surfaces. The drawing was jammed
with notations and labels--wind cone, ro-
tating beacon, aircraft apron, runway safety
area, displaced threshold--and overcrowded
dimension lines. What little white space re-
mained was filled with half a dozen charts
neatly spaced above and below the green of
the photo. We'd worked for months to come
up with a runway, taxiway, and future termi-
nal and hangar configuration that resulted
in the longest runway--positioned onto the
odd-shaped property in just about the only
way it would fit--that didn't require rerout-
ing creeks.
I was at home when I opened Frank's e-mail
at my desk with the dull November sunlight
peeking through the window. As I was staring
at a letter-sized color printout of the site plan
and congratulating myself on a job well done,
I opened another e-mail, this one from Bill
Gunn with the Texas Department of Trans-
portation Aviation Division. Bill closed with,
"There is nothing the FAA can do to stop it.
You can always sue," which struck me as a
harbinger of things to come.
Bill Gunn had also attached a file to his e-
mail, a map showing the route for a proposed
new high-voltage transmission line. Some-
one, presumably Bill Gunn, had highlighted
the 85-mile-long power line route in yellow.
I clicked "print" and waited while my
printer revved up and produced a copy of
the map with the yellow line. I shoved my
keyboard aside and placed the map on the
desk in front of me, next to the site plan of the
new runway layout.
It took me a moment to figure out what I
was seeing. Then it hit me--the yellow line
outlining the new power line was too close to
the airport.
I'd heard rumors of the proposed power line
route a couple of weeks earlier. The Lower
Colorado River Authority Transmission Ser-
vices Corporation, LCRA for short, wanted to
construct a series of metal towers and stretch
a high-voltage power line from tower to tower.
Much of the new line ran along the toll road,
State Highway 130, west of Bird's Nest Air-
port. Then it angled east until it ran into the
Gilleland Creek Switching Station, a stone's
throw from the airport. The power line was
actually two separate lines, one in yellow hug-
ging the highway and another running nearly
parallel to the first, about five miles east. The
two north-south lines had several connecting
links in between. Next to each link was a cir-
cle with a number inside indicating the link
I squinted at the map and the crooked yel-
low line. Then at the site plan. Map. Site plan.