Additional upgrades are coming, including a new terminal that could house businesses such as a flight school and rental car company.
When Flagler County Executive Airport's Runway 1129 was built back in 1942, it was "kind of built in the wrong position," according to Director Roy Sieger.
The airport safety standards created by the FAA weren't in force yet because the FAA wouldn't be formed for another 16 years, and the Flagler runway's angles to the local wind patterns and terrain weren't ideal. It also wasn't as long as it could be, Sieger told reporters during a media tour of the airport June 20.
The airport has spent the last 134 days trying to fix those problems by moving the runway 400 feet south and extending it 500 feet to a total of 5,500 feet. The extra length will let planes take off with more fuel.
The upgraded runway is almost ready: Contractor Halifax Paving expects the asphalt to be laid by the end of July. The asphalt will then undergo a 30-day cure period before being marked with grooves to give planes greater traction. Then the runway will be complete.
The runway project encompasses about 183 acres of property out of the airport's 1,500, and is costing an estimated $12.18 million in construction costs, plus about $5 million in other associated costs, including design and the purchase of 117 acres of property adjacent to the airport, Sieger said.
"This is the largest project that this airport has ever done since it was constructed in 1942," Sieger said.
Those costs are just a portion of the estimated $40 million spent on upgrades at the airport since its eight-story control tower was completed in 2009, transforming the airport from an unmanned field to a manned airport.
Money for the projects comes from grants and from profit made by the airport, which totals about $600,000 a year.
More upgrades are planned: The main terminal building will be replaced with a new, 12,000-14,000 foot one — large enough to hold businesses such as a flight school and rental car company. That project is expected to cost $3.5 million to $4 million and to be completed in two to three years.