Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Before you get too excited about yet another vote by our esteemed city commission to buy land to expand the airport runway, you might want to consider the history on these bogus votes which tend to go nowhere. Here is an old BV story on said history.


I want to be clear - Larry Brown is the best person for the job at the airport. He is truly an advocate for Brownsville. He knows his business. The problem is - he cannot wave a magic wand to make things happen. The candidates for mayor need to read this and find out exactly what it is going to take to make sure Larry Brown has the support he needs.

According to the City of Brownsville its longest runway, runway 2, is 7399 feet long. What this story documents is, is that at least as far back as 2003 there has been a promise to expand the runway to 10,000 feet, so as to expand commercial and cargo service. I have not been able to learn why there is such a delay or what exactly is the status of the runway expansion. This is important if Pan Am is to succeed.

In June of 2010, Larry Brown announced still no progress on the runway expansion. He is predicting yet another three years. Why is the airport not getting the help it needs?. This needs to be a major election issue. Pan Am is rolling the dice on Brownsville and all Brownsville can offer is another three years - maybe. This is unacceptable. I do not blame Larry Brown - he knows his business - the problem is a city leadership which knows nothing about business and the role the airport plays in economic development. Many believe we lost the Boeing contract over the lack of a long enough runway.

June 2010: “Officials also are looking to increase the length of the airport’s runway within the next three years — from about 7,400 linear feet to 10,000 — which would eliminate weight restrictions for many aircraft during the peak heat of summer, airport Director Larry Brown said.”

As late as mid 2003 Continental was operating 737's in Brownsville. A decision was made the smaller planes were a better choice. While I prefer larger planes, I also prefer a choice in flights which give me a better connection time in Houston. For an hour flight, I would rather have more choice, than bigger planes with fewer choices. I say this because I have read wherein people are claiming Brownsville cannot handle 737's. This is simply false.

I am going to tell the story through a series of Herald articles. These articles give the history.


June 2003

“Brown said runway size is one of the most important criteria for companies that manufacture airplanes. Manufacturers look at airports that have 10,000-foot runways, he said. Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airports longest runway is only 7,400 feet long, but Brown said an extension project is already under way.”

What Mr. Brown was telling us in 2003, is - we need a longer runway if we are going to bring more manufacturing jobs to Brownsville.

November 2003

“The total cost of buying the land and construction of the runway would be between $1.7 million and $5 million. The federal government would pay 85 percent of the cost leaving the city with the remaining cost of $800,000"

Nov 2003: “Still, airport officials have requested funds from the sales-tax supported Greater Brownsville Incentives Corp. to buy more land for the project. They need between 370 and 460 acres, which is estimated to cost between $1.7 and $5 million.

Brown said they hope to complete the runway expansion by 2006"

“BROWNSVILLE, Feb. 18, 2004 The Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport is closer to extending its runway and attracting more heavy cargo business after the City Commission on Tuesday approved $1.7 million to purchase 340 acres for the project.

Its important that we “do this now, said airport Director Larry Brown.

If we were to try to develop the area later, we would have to relocate people, and thats expensive.
the rate of purchase is about $5,000 an acre, mostly from Glick family property owners, Brown said.
The commission agreed to underwrite the loan, expecting at least a 90 percent payback from the Federal Aviation Administration from upcoming grant applications.”

MARCH 2004:

“Last month, the city voted to allow the airport to buy land for a proposed runway expansion that would give the airport the longest one in the Rio Grande Valley at about 10,000 feet.

Things are moving, Brown said. A longer runway could bring heavier freight planes to the airport, he said, and plans are brewing to bring another passenger airline to town.“

If Larry Brown’s current prediction is accurate it will be 10 yeasr in the making. This is not leadership - this is a failed city commission. Again Larry is not the problem - he knows what needs to get done - he simply has his hands tied. Larry could be the most intelligent and competent person in aviation today, but so long as we have inept leadership within the Brownsville city commission Larry will remain a miracle cure going nowhere because no one knows how to give an injection.

I suspect the mayoral candidates will shy away from this issue. It is not like promising free money. People love to vote for free money, then complain about taxes when they have to pay for that “free” money.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your report was right on and so true. the only exception is it is a $83 million dollars.