Traf­fic way up at SRQ, but grow­ing pains ar­rive

The Bradenton Herald (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY JAMES A. JONES JR.


Sara­sota Braden­ton In­ter­na­tional Air­port, which has seen dou­ble digit growth in pas­sen­ger traf­fic ev­ery month since May, and fore­casts a 44 per­cent in­crease in Jan­uary, is hav­ing grow­ing pains.

Among them an in­ad­e­quate fuel farm to sup­ply all the new flights, and the need for more bag­gage belts to han­dle pas­sen­ger lug­gage.

“These are all growth prob­lems. They are good prob­lems to have,” said Rick Pic­colo, pres­i­dent and CEO of the air­port, told mem­bers of the Sara­sota Man­a­tee Air­port Author­ity on Tues­day.

In 2018, SRQ added two new air­lines, Al­le­giant Air and Fron­tier Air­lines, 20 new routes and 15 new des­ti­na­tions.

In ad­di­tion to the new air­lines at SRQ , ex­ist­ing car­ri­ers, United Air­lines, Jet­Blue, Amer­i­can Air­lines, and Delta Air­lines have all an­nounced ad­di­tional or ear­lier ser­vices.

In re­sponse, the air­port author­ity Tues­day ap­proved an in­crease in the air­port’s cap­i­tal pro­jects bud­get of $2,075,000 to de­sign and con­struct a fuel farm ex­pan­sion and add a blast fence near ground trans­porta­tion, and be­gin pre­lim­i­nary plan­ning for the 76-acre Tal­l­ev­ast and 15th Street out­parcels.

Ex­pan­sion of ticket ser­vices is al­ready un­der­way to pro­vide enough ticket po­si­tions with di­rect ac­cess to the bag belt sys­tem.

The air­port board also ap­proved a $1.5 mil­lion con­tract with Mag­num Builders of Sara­sota to de­mol­ish the Jeanne McEl­mur­ray Build­ing, and ren­o­vate the cur­rent Trans­porta­tion Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion space to serve as a new board­room, ex­pand the po­lice de­part­ment area, ren­o­vate the ex­ec­u­tive of­fices, and ex­pand and ren­o­vate the badg­ing area.

Tues­day, the air­port author­ity also awarded a $4.4 mil­lion con­struc­tion con­tract to Wright Con­struc­tion Group for im­prove­ments to 92 acres of un­de­vel­oped air­port land.

Called the North Quad De­vel­op­ment Pro­ject, im­prove­ments in­clude up­grad­ing Clyde Jones Road, con­struct­ing ad­di­tional road­ways within the pro­ject area, stormwa­ter man­age­ment, and ex­ten­sion of wa­ter, sewer and elec­tric­ity to the site.

In ad­di­tion, the author­ity ap­proved a re­quest to in­crease the con­tract scope of work for a mas­ter drainage plan for the North Quad area with an ad­di­tional cost of $521,215.

With the con­struc­tion draw­ings de­vel­oped for the mas­ter drainage plan, SRQ staff would be able to ap­ply for $8 mil­lion in grants through the Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion and Flor­ida De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion to pay for im­prove­ments.

Upon com­ple­tion of the pro­ject, ex­ist­ing ponds at the air­port would be re­duced in size, re­duc­ing the at­trac­tion to wildlife, and im­prov­ing safety for de- part­ing and ar­riv­ing flights. In ad­di­tion, the air­port would be able to move for­ward with eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of Quad North.

The air­port is debt free and op­er­ates with­out prop­erty tax rev­enue.

JAMES A. JONES JR. ja­[email protected]­

Sara­sota Braden­ton In­ter­na­tional Air­port has added Al­le­giant Air and Fron­tier Air­lines, 20 new routes and 15 new des­ti­na­tions dur­ing this year. The air­port now needs to ex­pand its fuel farm to ac­com­mo­date the in­crease in new flights.

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