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Author: 
The Brownsville Herald

The Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport of today will look nothing like the Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport of tomorrow.

That’s according to Aviation Director Larry Brown, discussing plans for an extreme makeover of the airport.

“The terminal you see here will not be here in the future,” he said. “It will be completely redone.”

The new building will likely be situated further to the west and closer to Amelia Earhart Drive where a parking lot currently exists. The reason is that the airport anticipates handling bigger aircraft in the future in contrast to the 50-seat regional jets Brownsville gets now, Brown said.

“Before we invested a lot of money expanding north and south on this footprint, we came to the realization that we need to move the terminal so that we can accommodate much larger aircraft in the future,” he said. “Part of the new terminal will involve putting in new concrete to park larger airplanes.”

The Federal Aviation Administration has invested roughly $1 million on initial design and environmental assessment studies that the FAA requires for its continued financial support, Brown said.

The current phase of planning entails 20 percent of the design work for the new terminal, he said.

“We put together a 20-percent design that looks at what the interior needs are based on a terminal- area forecast and projections of future enplanements out of the terminal,” Brown said.

“We put together a design for needs 20 years out, then sit down and start developing cost allocations associated with that. It all has to do with FAA procedure.”

The project may be paid for through a combination of FAA and Transportation Security Administration funds in addition to airport-generated revenue, he said.

“The airport operates by revenue we produce by leasing spaces,” Brown said. “We’re looking at an adjustment of lease rates.”

He said the airport is also pursuing a longer term project to extend the main runway, necessary to support SpaceX or Space Exploration Technologies, which broke ground on the world’s first commercial rocket launch site at Boca Chica beach last September.

Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez noted recently that the Hawthorne, Calif.-based space cargo company submitted a “letter of interest” to the FAA regarding a runway extension in order to accommodate large planes carrying equipment and supplies for SpaceX.

“We will have more people flying into the airport, more cargo flying into and out of the airport,” Brown said. “Obviously there will be more tourists coming down here to watch rocket launches. SpaceX will absolutely have an impact.”

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