Featured Photo (above): Main entrance (west facade) of the old terminal at Brownsville/SPI International. Courtesy: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Brownsville (Cameron County) – The interim mayor postponed a vote on the selection of a general contractor for the construction of a new airport terminal on grounds that additional federal funding was pending.
Jim Kirschbaum, a CH2M project manager had recommended in mid-July to Aviation Director Bryant Walker that the contract go to SpawGlass.
Two other companies–Davila Construction Inc. and D. Wilson Construction Co.–submitted lower bids, but Kirschbaum determined those bids to be irregular or from companies that lacked sufficient experience with airport terminal projects.
“According to the experience submitted by SpawGlass, they have completed or are currently working on several projects of similar size or larger than the proposed new Terminal at BRO,” Kirschbaum stated.
Brownsville Interim Mayor Michael Lopez explaining to the City Commission why a contract award for the new airport terminal was postponed. Image courtesy : City of Brownsville video archives.
The SpawGlass bid was for $44,027,298. It was on the July 30 City Commission agenda for consideration but was pulled at the last minute by Interim Mayor Michael Lopez.
A related item for the issuance of up to $16.5 million in taxable series notes to help pay for the project was also pulled.
“FAA did come out with a grant that they plan to award within the next 30 days,” Lopez told commissioners. “This gives us a better opportunity as the airport to chase it … so we are chasing that grant and that’s why we’re pulling them.”
Walker told the Brownsville Herald that the $16.5 million may not be needed if the pending $20 million FAA request comes through. The additional funds would come from a $1 billion supplemental allocation to the FAA Airport Improvement Program.
Walker explained that the money would only be available for projects that have not yet broken ground.
“If we award the bid, the project’s officially started,” Walker said.
The FAA award is expected to be decided before October 1. At that point, the City Commission will be in position to select the contractor.
Elevations of the new Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport terminal. Courtesy: Brownsville public records.
The FAA had previously committed $12.7 million for the project, but that was effectively a reimbursement grant that required the city to spend an equal sum first. That is why the City Commission was going to authorize the $16.5 million in taxable series notes, a form of short-term financing.
Brownsville leaders have been trying to replace the Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport terminal for more than decade. The project involves demolition of much of the existing terminal, the construction of a two-story, 87,000-square-foot passenger terminal, and the redesign and construction of accessory parking and landscaping, landside and airside improvements, and the connecting roadways and drainage system.
Site plan showing the phasing in of work for the demolition and new construction at the airport. Courtesy: Brownsville public records.