Major projects wrap up at Valley International

HARLINGEN — As a passenger at Valley International Airport, some of the changes you’ll see, and others you won’t see.

The city’s airport embarked on a major upgrade of several of its key safety and operating systems, including a new perimeter road, a complete new HVAC system, new runway lighting, new fiber optic cable and the installation of energy-efficient LED

lighting throughout the facility.

Most if not all of the millions of dollars spent came from Federal Aviation Administration funding, said Bryan Wren, assistant director of aviation at VIA.

“We wrapped up our perimeter road project,” he said. “We finished it on schedule and right on budget, actually.

“What that does is gives me an access road that goes out of all runway and safety areas so that the general aviation guys coming from this side to fuel the airliners, or going back and forth, they don’t have to call the tower any more or cross runway safety areas.”

VIA also finished its overhaul of its runway lighting systems.

“We did new lighting on two runway circuits and one taxiway circuit, and took an unlit taxi-way and lit it, plus the approach lights,” Wren said. “And we finished that whole project at just under $2.2 million, ahead of schedule and actually under budget.”

One of the trickiest upgrades to the airport was replacing not just the facility’s entire HVAC system, but adding the ability to pre-cool the air before it hits the air-conditioning units.

“We used to have outside air go straight into it, which is hot air, and it has to work hard,” Wren said. “We now have an actual fan that is going to pre-cool the air before it goes into the big box to cool so it’s not working near as hard as it used to.

“In energy efficiencies, we’re looking at probably reducing our energy bills by 20 percent a year and that’s being extremely conservative,” he said. “The engineers are telling me closer to 35 percent.”

Construction also has begun on Valley International’s new Airport Rescue Firefighters Facility, known in the industry as an ARFF.

The 10,000-square-foot building will cost just under $3 million and is located on the northwest side of the airport, overlooking the runways.

The new facility will house firefighters, with both male and female living facilities, a kitchen, training rooms and the airport’s new Striker Oshkosh 4×4 and Titan Force specialized firefighting trucks.

“We were a little behind schedule in doing the dirt work,” Wren said of the ARFF facility, “but they’re now getting caught up to schedule.”