The McAllen International Airport and Congressman Rubén Hinojosa will host a news conference Thursday Sept. 25 to highlight $10 million in safety enhancements to the main runway. The airport will construct improvements to comply with a federal mandate for Runway Safety Areas (RSA).
Congressman Hinojosa secured a federal grant awarded to the City of McAllen from the US Department of Transportation under the Federal Aviation Administration that will pay 90 percent of the runway improvements. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, a series of aircraft accidents around the country signalled the need for airports nationwide to enhance the safety of their runways. A runway safety area is the surface surrounding each end of a runway that provides safety margins for aircraft landing and departing in the event of an undershoot or overrun.
The RSA project at McAllen Airport will consist of mass-grading and fence reconstruction on the east end, near 10th Street. The improvements on the west end, adjacent to 23rd Street, will include installation of an engineered materials arresting system (EMAS). The EMAS bed contains high energy, lightweight crushable concrete blocks that will collapse under the weight of an aircraft and prevent it from veering off the runway in the event of an emergency.
The estimated cost of the project is $10.4 million. The City of McAllen will provide a 10 percent local match. Construction will begin in October 2014 and is expected to be complete by August of 2015.