County officials break ground for new terminal at Marco Island airport
Marco Island Executive Airport improvements to bring it into compliance with Federal Aviation Administration safety regulations are set to start.
County officials had a ground-breaking ceremony Thursday for the project.
A new aviation terminal will be built in the $9.4 million project. The existing terminal is too close to an active runway, according to FAA regulations.
“The primary objective of the project is pertaining to safety to allow more room for aircraft to maneuver in and out,” Airport Manager Justin Lobb said. “It will address some capacity needs to accommodate a greater number of aircraft during the peak season months, which can get very busy.
"Certainly, the new terminal building allows for that growth and does contain space for our thriving aeronautical commercial business to operate.”
Construction of the Marco Island Executive Airport, located at 2005 Mainsail Drive, began in 1974. The airport officially opened its doors in 1976.
Because the airport was designed and constructed by a private developer, the FAA guidelines did not apply and the airport was grandfathered in under those safety regulations.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean that we were noncompliant, but there’s an opportunity to design and redevelop our airport that is consistent with FAA regulations,” Lobb said.
In 1996, the Airport Authority undertook the airport's first master plan , which outlined the development needs for the next 20 years.
Before the Collier County Board of Commissioners approved the new terminal project, the airport’s largest venture was the construction of the parallel runway project, which was completed in 2012.
Commissioner Donna Fiala, who previously worked for United Airlines, recalled her first trips to the airport when there was only one operator, Provincetown Boston Airlines.
A lot has changed since then with the airport now home to three flight schools, two charter operators and the Marco Island Civil Air Patrol.
“It was interesting because to watch the aircraft taking off and landing, they were coming at each other down that runway,” Fiala said. “There was no taxiway. It was really scary and people couldn’t get insurance to fly in and out of here because of the configuration of the airport.”
Marco Island City Council Chairman Jared Grifoni said the airport was once the “gateway to paradise,” but has evolved into a more valuable resource with the Florida Department of Transportation estimating its economic pact at $27.6 million.
“Tourism and development play such a key role and sustains our county all year round,” Grifoni said.
The relocated terminal building will be approximately 16,000 square feet and will include features such as pilot and passenger lounges, planning stations, rental car concessions, airport administrative offices and office space for aeronautical business operators.
The project also includes construction of new parking spaces, landscaping, lighting and stormwater retention features.
West Construction, Inc. was the lowest qualified bidder for the contract. Atkins North America and SchenkelShultz Architecture were hired to design and engineer the project.
The construction contract officially begins on April 30 with a one-year timeline for completion.
Lobb, the airport manager, said the goal is for the new terminal to be operable by the spring of 2019, after which the demolition will begin on the existing facilities.