Airport’s new terrazzo floor lacks pizzazz, officials say

HARLINGEN — For $2.1 million, you expect it to really shine.

Officials at Valley International Airport say they have issues with the new blue and white epoxy terrazzo flooring installed in the terminal and have reached out to the manufacturer to help make things right.

“The floor that’s there looks great, however it doesn’t have that spark, that wow factor like you see when you walk on terrazzo floors everywhere,” Bryan Wren, assistant director of aviation, told the airport board last week. “We noticed that from day one.”

The problem with the floor appears to be a new type of sealant was applied which is not intended for use in high-traffic areas, Wren told the board.

“Finally we were able to get the terrazzo manufacturer down here, they flew in, and they admitted … that it was installed per specification but was in fact not meant for high-traffic volume areas,” Wren told the board.

“It took about a month of research and we finally got them down here to do a test area — we did it from the restaurant in a high-traffic area going to the baggage claim — and you can see the night-and-day difference.”

The terrazzo manufacturer, Ohio-based Key Resin Co., has been receptive to the concerns of airport officials, Wren said in an interview yesterday.

“There was a sealer that was put down and there was a little bit of an issue … so then we recommended a different sealer which they did a mock-up of,” said Larry Bucher, national manager of architectural products/terrazzo for Key Resin. “Everyone likes the new sealer, so that’s what’s going to happen, so it’s going to be the new sealer if you will throughout the whole airport.”

The floor was installed over winter by a local company, Mion Terrazzo Tile and Marble Co., which has been working with the airport on the scuffed floor issue.

“It wasn’t the fault of the contractor or installer,” Wren said. “It was the first time they used this type of sealant.”

Mike Mion, owner of Mion Terrazzo Tile, said the sealant used was one specified to be applied to the material by the manufacturer, Key Resin.

“I didn’t recommend the sealant that they specified in the specs and that’s what we used,” Mion said. “There’s nothing wrong with the terrazzo at all.”

Wren said the sealant should have been tested first before being applied to the terminal’s entire floor.

“The secondary test appears to be holding up a lot better than the original,” he said.

Wren said resurfacing the terrazzo with new sealant should be accomplished in two nights, and that airport officials are negotiating for a time for Mion to perform the work.

“I was not at the meeting but what I think the airport wanted to do was to look at it for a little bit of time and make sure that the different sealer was the right way to go, which everyone is telling me it is the right way to go,” Bucher said. “I don’t know when this plan is to do it, I would say fairly soon.

“I know that’s a dumb answer but I believe we just wanted to be cautious and not make a mistake for the third time,” he added.

The Harlingen airport recently completed a $12 million, six-year overhaul which has added the new flooring, a $3.8 million airport firefighting and rescue facility, new ceiling tiles over the terminal, restrooms which were overhauled and pipes replaced, a second emergency generator, along with new air chillers, fan coil units, a new HVAC system and a new cooling tower.

LED lighting both in the terminal and on the runways has been installed as well.

Two major projects in the pipeline are a multimillion-dollar overhaul to rip out and replace World War II-era concrete along taxiways and lengthening VIA’s longest runway — 17R/35L — from 8,300 feet to 9,400 feet.