Rebuilding a main runway earned Punta Gorda Airport the state’s Commercial Airport Project of the Year award.
The small airport with a big commercial presence due to Allegiant Airlines and soon Sun Country Airlines, received the award from the Florida Department of Transportation in Jacksonville. Airport Chief Executive Officer James Parish accepted the award last week.
The award is for the $12 million project of rebuilding the airport’s secondary runway, whose name of 15-33 is painted on the asphalt and can be seen by pilots from the air. The project required buying land, adding another 593 feet to make the runway meet modern requirements, and filling 14 acres of wetlands by the runways. The last task has led to a 50% reduction in bird collisions with planes compared to two years ago. It also required spending $1.8 million of compensation by rebuilding wetlands elsewhere in the region.
The airport took the construction opportunity to fix other safety problems including a hot spot between two smaller runways with collision risks.
“I’m proud of how our team took a holistic approach to project management,” Parish said. “They worked together to implement additional safety improvements while maximizing resources.”
But the airport is only partway done with its big goal, which is to rebuild the main runway, 4-22. That runway has has not been rebuilt since the 1940s. To rebuild that runway required first rebuilding and extending 15-33 to take on the job of main runway while 4-22 is being rebuilt this year. Rebuilding 4-22 will cost about $15.8 million. None of this comes from local taxes.
Charlotte County commissioners praised the airport for its achievements and took the opportunity to comment on players who sought to privatize the publicly owned airport last year. Commissioners successfully fought off that campaign.
“I would argue that this airport is being run quite well,” said Commissioner Chris Constance.
“Some things work without privatizing,” said Commissioner Joe Tiseo.