Northwest Florida’s airports will receive more than $2.6 million in grants from the federal Department of Transportation, Congressman Matt Gaetz announced Friday.
The grant dollars will be used to fund improvements at four airports, including Destin–Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS), Crestview’s Bob Sikes Airport (CEW), Destin Executive Airport (DTS), and Pensacola International Airport (PNS).
“It is critical to invest in our airports,” Gaetz said in a statement. “Maintaining and upgrading airport infrastructure, while giving them room to grow and expand, will help our airports better meet the needs of travelers. Northwest Florida has always been a popular destination for tourism, business, and governmental travel. The $2.6 million in grants from the Department of Transportation will allow Northwest Florida’s popularity as a travel destination to continue to grow, now and in the years to come.”
The largest chunk of the money, $2,107,000, will go to VPS, located at Eglin Air Force Base. Some 2,000 feet of taxiways will be rehabilitated using the grant. Bob Sikes Airport and Destin Executive Airport will receive $270,000 and $198,000 respectively to rehabilitate runway aprons.
“This is exciting news, as we expect to serve over a million passengers this year,” said Carolyn Ketchel, chairwoman of the Okaloosa County Commission, which owns the three airports. “We’ve seen unprecedented growth at the Destin–Fort Walton Beach Airport. The work that the Congressman has done will allow us to enhance amenities that are much-needed at each of the airports.”
$43,796 will go to Pensacola International Airport to help fund demolition work for the planned Airport Commerce Park.
“The ability for the Pensacola International Airport to continue moving forward with the acquisition and preparation of property for future development is of paramount importance in the City of Pensacola’s ongoing efforts to protect the airport from incompatible adjacent land use, and for future economic diversification opportunities at the facility,” said Pensacola International Airport Director Dan Flynn.
The grant money is expected to be disbursed before September, Gaetz’s office said.