WESLACO, RGV – Brownsville-South Padre Island International Airport is getting a major overhaul.

Charlie Cabler, Brownsville city manager, says that the project, which will cost $118 million to $120 million to complete, includes construction of a new terminal and runway extensions.

To help with the planning and funding of the project, the city is working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Charlie Cabler

Cabler says the FAA has already reviewed blueprints and gone over design plans. As an international airport, he says they are also ensuring the accommodation of Homeland Security, customs and border patrol and local law enforcement agencies.

“They’ve been very supportive, and they’ve come to our city to visit us about the terminal, so we feel that they are very [much] wanting us to get this project done,” said Cabler.

Cabler says SpaceX also has a great interest in the airport’s improvement. With their launch site on Boca Chica Beach still under construction, the space exploration company factors into their development plans.

“We’re working with the port (Port of Brownsville) very closely about the possibility of rail and things like that to make the airport a viable landing destination for them – for not only employees that they may have here, but also for some of the infrastructure and equipment that they need here,” said Cabler.

Work on the new terminal will begin first. This week, the Brownsville City Commission approved plans for the 85,000-square-foot building at a price tag of $30 million. On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela of Brownsville announced the receipt of a $12.7 million grant for the terminal from the FAA.

“Since my first term in office, I have advocated for the funding for the Brownsville airport,” Vela said via a press release. “The expansion will allow even more access to the continually growing tourism industry in Brownsville and on South Padre Island, while boosting economic development throughout South Texas. I would like to thank the Brownsville City Commission, the entire Brownsville Airport Advisory Board, and all of the City of Brownsville staff for their hard work in securing this funding.”

As the momentum keeps up, Cabler says the construction should be finished by April 2018.

“What’s important for us is to get the terminal done, then we can get into the runway extensions,” said Cabler. “The runway extensions will be funded 90 percent by the Federal Aviation Administration, so that’s good for us.”

Cabler gave his interview to the Rio Grande Guardian following a luncheon hosted by the Society of Marketing Professional Services-Rio Grande Valley. The event was held at the Weslaco Business & Event Center next to City Hall in Weslaco. Two other city managers were invited to speak alongside Cabler – Mike Perez of Weslaco and Roy Rodriguez of McAllen.

Cabler spoke about the expansion of Brownsville International Airport when asked a question about the most exciting project he is working on. Cabler put the airport at the top of that list. Here some of the other things he listed:

•    Successful relocation of rail tracks in downtown Brownsvilleand building a rail bridge with Matamoros; next step is deciding what to with property where rail tracks were; Cabler spoke about hike and bike trails;
•    Working on a Brownsville Community Resource Center that will help Brownsville Police Department with issues such as domestic violence;
•    A Performing Arts Academy is currently under construction;
•    Revitalizing Brownsville’s market square, its downtown buildings, and building a fire training academy.