Guest column: Public invited to airport project forum

By Ted Soliday

Executive director

Naples Airport Authority

Wednesday evening, the public will have the opportunity to learn more about planned water-management system improvements and the Taxiway A extension project at Naples Municipal Airport. The $8 million-plus project is scheduled to launch in spring 2013 and includes two years of monitoring the results of the water-management system improvements.

From 5:30 until 7:30 p.m., information stations will provide details about the project's engineering, water-quality goals, environmental effects and taxiway extension design. Brief overview presentations will be repeated throughout the two-hour open house, and visitors will have the opportunity to discuss the project with airport staff and project consultants.

The City of Naples Airport Authority has secured initial grants totaling almost $1.2 million from the Federal Aviation Administration and Florida Department of Transportation for the project. Additional grants are expected to fund 95 percent of the total cost. If performance monitoring confirms predictions, the water-management system improvements may become a regional or national model.

Naples Municipal Airport takes stormwater runoff from industrial land east of the airport. This project is designed to test and validate that water leaving the airport and flowing into the Gordon River and Naples Bay is as clean as possible. The water-management system improvements include master drainage planning, pre-project water quality and wildlife monitoring, computational fluid dynamics modeling, permitting, construction of baffles to redirect water moving through existing ponds and post-project water monitoring.

The project also includes the extension of Taxiway A to provide easier access to the end of Runway 23. The extension will enhance airport safety and operations by eliminating the need for aircraft leaving from the east side of the airport to cross the active runway to take off.

The project allows the taxiway extension to be completed years ahead of schedule at very little cost to the Airport Authority. The grant money for a construction project of this size will provide a boost to the local economy. Most importantly, the water-management system will benefit the citizens of Naples and Collier County and has the potential to set a national standard for how airports should handle water-management issues.

The open house will be held in the airport's commercial terminal on the south side of the airport at 500 Terminal Dr., off North Road. We hope to see you there.

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