Huge progress has been made since construction began at the beginning of the year at the new Panama City Bay County International Airport site north of up Highway 79 north of Highway 388 in Bay County.
The entire site consists of 4,000 acres that can be used for the airport and all future expansions with a total 1,300 acres permitted for construction right now. Phase I will include a primary runway of 8,400 feet and a secondary cross-wind runway of 5,000 feet. The primary runway will run almost due north at 340 degrees with the secondary at around 50 degrees.
The primary runway preparatory work includes site prep for extensions of up to 2,000 additional feet on the south side and 2,000 additional feet on the north side with a total eventual runway length of 12,400 feet. In addition, the 4,000 acre site will allow for an additional 8,400 feet runway that will run parallel with the primary runway should demand require it in the future. If demand requires the additional runway length on the primary runway, the actual paving process should only take a few months.
Currently, clearing and grubbing (the removal of stumps and roots) of the entire 1,300 acres is almost complete with grading already taking place for the runways and road entry way from Highway 388. There is an almost 60 foot elevation difference between the south and north part of the new Panama City Airport property. The grading process will level the road and runway by scraping up dirt from the north part and dumping, flattening and compacting it on the south part of the property. Huge trucks drive back and forth every day slowly completing this process. The main roadway connecting the airport with Highway 388 is 150 feet wide.
Also, the installation of storm water drains and culverts is taking place and will continue throughout construction.
The grading of the runways and road entry ways is on schedule to be complete late summer/early fall with the paving to begin immediately upon completion of grading. Paving should be complete by fall 2009.
Vertical – the construction of the terminal, air traffic control facilities, safety facilities, air cargo building, maintenance facilities, rental car facilities and the fuel farm – is set to begin fall 2008 and should be complete by late 2009 or early 2010.
Construction of the general aviation area should begin early 2009 which will include the corporate hangars, private hangars and FBO’s. The two current FBO’s at the current airport are planning to move when the new airport is operational. They are Sheltair and Precision AvJet.
When the new Panama City Bay County International Airport is complete, it will go through stringent tests to receive its certifications through the FAA. All air traffic control equipment and personal is provided by the FAA (I’m sure at a cost).
When the airport is ready, the old airport (PFN) will close one day and the new airport will open the next day.
The existing airport is a test bed for TSA, which works closely with the Navy Base located in Panama City Beach. The new airport will be a “clean slate” for surveylance and people and baggage screening testing.
Also, the Airport Authorities goal is to obtain LEED‘s silver status certification by using all recycled materials including concrete, carpet fibers, etc. All landscaping and vegetation will be native plant species transplanted from the surrounding areas.
Current construction schedule includes:
- Embankment: May 12 – June 17
- Storm Sewer and Structures: May 12 – June 23
- Lime Rock: June 2 – June 30
- Asphalt Road Surfaces: June 23 – June 30
- Excavate Wet Pond: May 12 – May 26