U.S. Rep. Will Hurd on Saturday pledged his support to the city’s efforts to study the feasibility of extending the runway at the city airport.
Hurd met at the Del Rio International Airport Saturday with members of the Del Rio Economic Development Corporation (DREDC), a member of the city’s international airport commission, City Economic Development Director Oriana Fernandez and Shannalea Taylor, president of the Bank & Trust and a commissioner on the Texas Military Preparedness Commission. Also present at the meeting was Carmen Gutierrez, Hurd’s Del Rio liaison.
Leo Martinez, chair of the DREDC board of directors, and Rachel Beavan represented the DREDC, and David Martinez represented the city’s international airport commission, which he serves as chair.
Hurd opened the meeting by saying he wanted to make sure important local projects would be carried forward after he leaves office at the end of this year. He said he also wanted to hear more about the prospective extension of the runway at the city’s airport.
“I get that’s it’s of benefit to Laughlin Air Force Base and for many factions of the region, for the Department of Homeland Security. . . because if we can get four out of five dollars from the FAA, I’ll make that ask,” he said.
He said he wanted to make sure though, everything that needed to be done was done and in place before he made such a request.
David Martinez said the airport commission has only recently begun discussing the possibilities of extending the runway.
“The first thing we need to do, though, is update our master plan,” he said.
Hurd noted extending the runway would not simply be an effort involving Laughlin, but “multiple entities.”
“So we need to think about what the manufacturers would need and how this would potentially impact them. . . Having multiple stakeholders involved will be beneficial,” Hurd said.
“I am committed to helping this process along,” the congressman added, saying updating the airport master plan “is of the essence.”
The group also talked about a planned two-lane expansion of the roadway between the city’s international bridge and the Del Rio Port of Entry, a discussion that turned to staffing concerns at the port.
“To be able to get the staffing levels to where we need them to be, we have to be able to project future use, not past use,” Hurd said.
The congressman noted in other border cities, including Ciudad Juarez and El Paso and Piedras Negras and Eagle Pass, manufacturing associations are funding overtime for port of entry officers working during peak travel times.
“So when we have these associations calling us to say that the lines are long, well, this is a multi-partner way to solve the problem immediately,” Hurd said.
Leo Martinez also spoke about the DREDC’s goals and objectives, and Beavan spoke about the possibility of having Val Verde Regional Medical Center designated as a veterans’ hospital.