CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. — Anyone driving a car is always aware of when road construction hits.
Merging into tighter space on highways, navigating detours through cities. Airline passengers may not always notice construction when they're on the tarmac, ready to take off or just in moments after landing.
People around Punta Gorda Airport, in Charlotte County, certainly do.
The airport is closing its longest runway, 4/22, nearly 7,200 feet for renovations for the entire year.
This means that all traffic is shifted to runway 15/33, about 1,000 feet shorter and also moving the take-offs and landings over neighborhoods north and south of the airport.
"Runway 4/22 is about 80 years old and it's absolutely essential that we reconstruct it and rehabilitate it," said Kaley Miller, the airport's director of marketing and communications.
Here is the master plan at PGD, according to Miller:
- Adding more commercial airline parking spots. Miller said Punta Gorda has room for "about ten" spaces for planes from Allegiant or Sun Country. Passengers at PGD travel from the gate, onto the tarmac, and up ramps to board the aircraft. Miller said the airport will look to add two more spaces.
- This will also allow more time to add room to the terminal itself at Punta Gorda. In 2013, the airport reported more than 333,000 passengers. In 2019, that figure surpassed 1.6 million.
- To make room for two more parking spaces, Miller said the construction of runway 4/22 would also allow private and general aviation aircraft to shift from directly south of the terminal to a place across the runways, to the eastern end of runway 4.As the work of rebuilding a runway marches on for 2022, the constant noise at the ends of runway 15/33 fill some of the neighborhoods.
People we spoke with, in a three-block stretch off Jones Loop Road, talked about the aircraft, large and small but always with some sound, overhead. They didn't want to go on-camera with FOX 4 but did stress how frequent the noise is.
Our friends in Harbor Heights, parts of Port Charlotte and Deep Creek have seen lots of takeoffs and landings," said Miller. "Rest assured, things will go back to how they were in 2021 when (the 4/22 runway) re-opens in 2023."
The airport's website said commercial traffic will use 4/22 as first priority or takeoffs and landings once the work is complete, with 15/33 to relieve traffic or due to weather conditions.