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AUSTIN EXECUTIVE AIRPORT
A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
R
on
W. H
enRiksen
Chapter 7
the new runway. No mention of speculation.
The runway will be built. Soon."
"Tell the truth, you mean?"
"Always a good strategy."
"And if that's not enough?" I asked.
"It's possible the judge can strike our
testimony."
"With which we have no case."
Kay breathed into the phone, one long in-
hale and an equally long exhale. We hadn't yet
met face-to-face and all I had to go on was her
voice and the length of her breathy pauses.
I heard the whisper of rustling papers in the
background, presumably a pile of important
documents atop her oversized desk, which I
imagined was made of three hundred-year-
old virgin sinker cypress salvaged from the
bottom of the Guadalupe River, a symbol, at
least to me, that she took the law seriously
and that she cared about the environment.
We had never discussed this but it made me
feel better thinking about her professional ap-
proach to the matter.
"Here it is," she said, all business. "In evi-
dence presented at the 1978 hearing, the
Federal Aviation Administration approved
the new transmission line because, and I'm
quoting here, it did not violate the airport's
horizontal zone. Yet in our case, the towers
do violate the horizontal zone. A reasonable
inference is that if the new lines violate FAA
regulations, the judge has reason to withhold
approval."
"Or ask LCRA to select an alternate route?"
"Right."
"It sounds logical," I said. "So, why am I not
convinced?"
Another pause. "Let's wait and see," Kay
said.
Getting the FAA On Our Side
The Federal Aviation Administration was
finally brought into the loop. On November
21, 2007, Bill Gunn with TxDOT Aviation Di-
vision received a letter from LCRA Associate
General Counsel, Fernando Rodriguez, in
which Mr. Rodriguez explained that his client
would formally notify the FAA of the new pow-
er line running past Bird's Nest Airport only
after the PUC had selected a final route at the
February 4, 2008, hearing. In some ways this
was a chicken-and-egg dilemma. LCRA had
two choices: Get formal advice from the FAA
on which routes hampered air traffic, or get
approval from the PUC and then get the FAA
involved when it was too late to make any
meaningful changes. What LCRA was saying,
without saying it, was that the FAA should
keep its nose out of LCRA's business and not
mess up their plans until after the hearing,
when any suggested changes the FAA may
care to make were a moot point.
At some point I remembered Kay suggest-
ing she had contacts within the economic de-
velopment group at the governor's office and
rumor was the state might contribute some
money to bury the offending power lines that
ran in front of the runway. That is, if nothing
else could be worked out. When it came to
a state government handing over millions of
dollars on my behalf, I was hesitant at best.
That the state would offer to help Bird's Nest
Airport without any strings attached didn't
strike me as likely. Even if the semi-offer was