A new passenger terminal is cleared for takeoff today after the Brownsville City Commission accepted a $1 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to develop a conceptual design for improvements at the Brownsville-South Padre Island International Airport.
The City Commission voted unanimously to accept the grant along with a second, $50,000 grant during its regular meeting Tuesday night.
That money, granted by the Texas Department of Transportation, will be put toward routine maintenance, but there are big plans for the FAA grant money.
The FAA grant will cover a handful of projects, including design and environmental assessment work on the new passenger terminal.
Airport Director Larry Brown said last night’s vote was mostly a formality and that work can begin as early as today on the project.
“We’ve already got the grant approved,” he said. “The money’s ours.”
Brown explained that the airport is hoping to leverage more funds into its terminal project once the environmental assessment is complete in about a year.
Once the city clears that hurdle it will be eligible to seek other funds, he said, although the plan is to seek out more FAA funding as the process continues.
Phase 4 of the terminal program involves putting together the final design in late 2015 and finishing up in early 2016.
“Then comes the big deal,” Brown said, explaining that the airport will need to finance the actual construction work.
Brown’s favored terminal concept is expected to cost between $22 million and $25 million.
The overall plan calls for construction to begin in late 2016 and for the project to be closed out in 2018.
The grant will also pay to update the airport’s layout plan – a “mini master plan,” Brown said – and to refurbish a fire truck that will buy the airport another five years to purchase a replacement.

Ty Johnson