HARLINGEN — While Valley International Airport is ripping up and replacing some more World War II-era pavement, FedEx Corp. will take advantage of the construction to expand the company’s cargo facility.
Call it a package deal.
In 2011, Fedex spent about $1.2 million to beef up operations at its airport sorting facility, and already the company needs more space as more freight is being routed through the airport.
“FedEx has already outgrown that and as for their sorting capacity, they are at max capacity, they are at 100 percent capacity for sorting,” Bryan Wren, VIA’s assistant director of aviation, said in an interview last week. “So they’re going to expand their sort facility as we do the concrete work and then they’re planning to expand not only to meet their current needs but for future growth here in the Valley.”
About two years ago, FedEx decided to re-route packages from its Laredo airport operation to Harlingen, bringing the freight via truck from Laredo and also from San Antonio and Corpus Christi.
In effect they turned the Harlingen airport location into a hub. To meet the increased shipping demands, FedEx went from one plane to two based at the airport, and those jets are flying twice daily six days a week.
Wren said FedEx will continue its freight operations, hopefully without hiccups, even as construction work on the pavement begins March 2.
That will be possible only because of an outdoor sorting area under a metal canopy which was built in 2018 and paid for with $120,000 from the Harlingen Economic Development Corp. It will become the main sorting area while renovation is ongoing elsewhere.
The old pavement to be removed is not part of a runway but given its age it needs to be replaced. It is similar to a situation where the airport recently reclaimed and repaved taxiways just north of the FedEx facility.
“The World War II concrete, we’re going full depth and that portion of the project is $166,000, and that is being paid for with AIP (federal Airport Improvement Program) funds and PFC (passenger facility charge) funds so there are no local out-of-pocket airport funds,” Wren said.
Wren said the project will rip out the old concrete for a “full-depth reconstruct.”
“So we’re looking at a total depth of 12 inches of lime-treated subgrade, 8 inches of cement treated base, and then 8 inches of reinforced concrete,” he added. “About 28 inches in total depth.”
FedEx also leases a hangar that once housed the Texas State Technical College’s aviation department, which was moved to a building on the nearby college campus.
FedEx did not return emails seeking comment on the airport construction project so it isn’t known what it’s going to cost the Memphis-based company.
Yet the investment is welcome for many in the city given Fedex’s recent abandonment of its sorting facility on I-69E/U.S. 77. The operation was moved to a new facility in Mercedes one year ago.