🛣️ When your flight's boarding but you're stuck in Hwy 71 traffic...
- 5 min read

🛣️ When your flight's boarding but you're stuck in Hwy 71 traffic...

Plus, why East Austin is 700 feet lower than West Austin.


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☀️ Good morning, Austin.

We’ve hit traffic on Highway 71 one too many times on the way to the airport. So we decided to talk about why it’s the only road into ABIA’s entrance.

Then, read why East Austin is 700 feet lower than West Austin and find out which celebrity is selling their multimillion-dollar home.

Austin Airport: One way in, one way out

Highway 71 is like that one popular bar (iykyk) that only has a single bathroom stall. Not exactly efficient.

Still, it’s the only road you can take to or from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

Austin Daily

For contrast, look at San Antonio. Highway 281, Interstate 410 and even some smaller roads all offer ways to and from the airport entrance.

In Austin, we feel the squeeze especially after a major crash. An accident on 71 backs up traffic for hours. Cars stand still. Folks hop out of their Ubers and trudge through the grass, suitcases in tow, to make flights on time. 

So how did we get here?

The answer will sound familiar: Austin didn’t account for the hoards of people that would later move, and visit, here.

From Mueller Airport to ABIA

The former control tower of the Robert Mueller Municipal Airport. Source: Wikimedia Commons

For 70 years, Austin’s airport was in Mueller. Big ol’ Boeings would take off near the city’s now best H-E-B (we said it, we meant it.)

In 1999, Mueller Airport closed because there wasn’t enough room to expand and our present-day airport opened on a former U.S. Air Force base. 

That led to the expansion of what was then merely Ben White Boulevard into the 71 freeway we know today. That got approved in the early 2000s, roughly a decade before the start of Austin’s major population growth spurt.

Now, to be fair, when the plan was OK’d, Austin didn’t yet have the national and global appeal it does today. For example, SXSW and ACL weren’t drawing as many out-of-staters (ACL one-day tickets cost $25 in 2002, for crying out loud.) 

But alas … here we are.

What about that train we were supposed to get?

As we mentioned last week, it looks like that won’t happen anytime soon. Womp womp. The proposed light rail line to ABIA was cut last year.

So Austin remains behind on that front. From Denver to Philly, dozens of cities bigger and smaller than us have some sort of train connecting the airport to downtown. 

But hey, we do have our own armadillo version of Punxsutawney Phil. That’s pretty hard to beat.

— Katie Canales, Editor

Temp: 86 degrees  Sun: Enough for sunscreen  What to Expect: Breezy winds 

All aboard the Temperature Rollercoaster! We’ll start the week with a late-spring or early-summer feel, but reality sets in mid-week with a return to winter. Please keep your head, shoulders, knees and toes inside the ride at all times.

Mary’s Tip: It’s time, ya’ll. I'm officially switching from hot to iced coffee for the next 8 months. One of my favorites is Summer Moon Coffee, try the Strawberry Mocha Moon Latte.

🪨 Rock On 🪨 

A bit of trivia for all the nature nerds: The east side of Austin is about 700 feet lower than the west side thanks to the Balcones Escarpment, a geological scar millions of years old running across Central Texas. Cool! 

Not cool: The area along the escarpment has been dubbed “Flash Flood Alley.” Rapid development along the fault line has increased the amount of impervious cover — materials like concrete that don’t absorb water or allow it to pass through. Hearst reporter Ricardo Delgado has the full scoop.

Haylie Duff is selling her $3.25M home

John Wolfsohn/Getty Images

After the COVID-19 pandemic started, actress, singer and Houston native Haylie Duff and her partner, Matt Rosenberg, moved from Los Angeles to Austin. (And apparently have embraced Longhorn fandom.)

The pair bought two homes on the edge of the Hill Country: a four-bedroom, 4,279-square-foot “Santa Barbara”-style home and a newly built, five-bedroom, 7,267-square-foot spread a few blocks away that sits on a little more than an acre. Both are in the Spanish Oaks neighborhood in Bee Cave, where Bill and Giuliana Rancic also recently bought.

Now, Duff is ready to part with the former.  On Jan. 23, she listed the “Santa Barbara”-style pad, which was built in 2013, for $3.25 million. That’s surely a step up from what the home cost her in late 2020, when she paid likely close to its $1.95 million asking price.

She hasn’t found any takers yet, so we’ll see if that price tag stays as is.

— Bob Goldsborough, Contributing Reporter

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Which is better: Whataburger or P. Terry's, and why?

Were so glad you found us. Find our bios and contact info here, or reach out at hello@austindaily.com. Behind todays send: Katie Canales, Cat DeLaura, Mary Wasson and Bob Goldsborough.