The McAllen-Miller International Airport is to invest $10.4m to install an area of lightweight, crushable concrete for expansion of the safety zone between its runway and nearby streets, while meeting the new federal regulations.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will make it mandatory by the end of 2015 for airport runways to have 1,000ft empty space at each end to accommodate aircraft that may overshoot the span in case of an emergency.
While this regulation was not a concern for other airports with expansive space surrounding their grounds, McAllen was finding it difficult to adhere to it. McAllen's primary runway is located between two thoroughfares that link the city with Mexico.
The airport has been granted more than $9.4m by FAA to complete the project, which will see installation of an engineered materials arrestor system (EMAS) to the west of the runway. It will be crushable concrete blocks designed to stop a runaway plane, with 10% of the project cost, around $1.04m, to be covered by the city.
As a part of the project, the perimeter road, drainage and fencing will be relocated closer to South 10th Street. The work is expected to be complete by September 2015.
McAllen aviation director Elizabeth Suarez was quoted by the Valley Morning Star that there would be no reduction in the runway or plane size as a result of the safety improvement.
The airport is also planning to update its master plan next year which will help officials to form a plan for further expansion of the runway.