Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport New Passenger Terminal

Brownsville, TX

Brownsville SPI International Airport New Passenger Terminal

Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport New Passenger Terminal

Owner: City of Brownsville
Owner’s Representatives: Davika; Garver
Architect: Corgan 

In operation for over 90 years, the Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport (BRO) is rich in history. In 1929, Amelia Earhart and a crowd of 20,000 greeted Charles Lindbergh after a historic flight from Mexico City, officially opening the airport. Most recently, in 2020, the BRO New Passenger Terminal opened to much anticipation with fireworks and a live streamed grand opening. This project was delivered through the leadership of City of Brownsville Assistant City Manager Bryant Walker, owner’s representatives Davika and Garver, design firm Corgan, SpawGlass and many local trade partners. 

The new two-level, 90,000-square-foot terminal is nearly triple the size of the existing terminal, located just over 100 feet away. The first floor of the terminal features the lobby, ticket counters, baggage claim, vehicle rental stations, offices and a U.S. Customs and Border Protection screening area with holding cells and an agriculture lab. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is located on the second floor along with boarding gates, restrooms and a pet area. The expanded gate area is capable of accommodating aircraft that carry close to 200 passengers. 

A sustainable highlight of the project is the inclusion of electrochromic glass, a.k.a. smart glass, windows, allowing BRO operators to control the amount of tint in the windows using a switch. Increasing the opacity in the windows blocks heat from the sunlight, reducing cooling costs and the strain on the electrical system. Other sustainable features include a reflective white roof and the relocation of 50 palm trees from the site for replanting throughout Brownsville. 

Working adjacent to the fully operational airport throughout construction provided challenges to the South Texas project team. Before work could begin, utilities such as gas, electrical and fiber optics had to be rerouted around the project site, and a road had to be constructed to create a detour for airport traffic. The project site’s proximity to an active runway also put height restrictions on boom, crane and lift equipment. 

Our Civil Division contributed to the project as well, performing almost $1.2 million of work. This included concrete paving and utilities on the airside of the terminal and the entire concrete apron where aircraft park for boarding and disembarking. 

The growing pandemic presented a unique set of challenges to the project team. With almost 200 team members onsite each day, closely following our mitigation plan and maintaining safety was essential. A thermal temperature scanner at the jobsite entry was implemented as well as individual water containers, private restroom facilities and additional handwashing stations. “Following the mitigation plan helped us to keep the project moving forward and assured our team members that it was safe to continue working,” said Project Manager Elio Longoria. “We had to adapt pretty quickly, and ideas like the thermal temperature scanner our team members walked through every day before entering the jobsite really made a difference.” 

Designed and constructed to create a memorable first impression, the new spacious and modern terminal enables even more visitors to experience everything Brownsville, South Padre Island and the surrounding areas have to offer. “Flying Brownsville” has never looked so good! 

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