Ocala International Airport project planning underway

Planes are shown on the tarmac in the general aviation area at Ocala International Airport on Monday, April 18, 2022. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2022.

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Posted October 5, 2023 | By Caroline Brauchler

The city of Ocala has just accepted a grant of more than $300,000 from the Florida Department of Transportation to conduct an environmental study for the Ocala International Airport taxiway project.

The Ocala City Council unanimously adopted a resolution to accept the grant at its Tuesday meeting. The agreement between FDOT and the city will last until June of 2025.

The $324,017 in grant funds will be spent on conducting an environmental assessment to see how the project to improve the taxiway at the Ocala International Airport will impact wildlife and a number of other environmental factors, said Airport Director Matthew Grow.

The project will also be funded $81,005 from the airport for a total project cost of $405,022. The scope of the project includes consultant fees, survey and data acquisition costs, and all labor required to complete the environmental assessment, according to the grant agreement.

“This FDOT grant will fund the environmental assessment for those projects on the west side of what we call runway 1836,” Grow said. “It’s Taxiway Charlie.”

This taxiway, which is a route that aircraft can use to move to or from the runway, is crucial for the airport’s need to move air cargo and accommodate large aircraft. A significant source of air cargo activity for the airport is moving horses, which is one of the main reasons for the improvements to the west side of the airport.

The tarmac, runways and taxiways all must be expanded to keep up with the level of activity from the county’s growth as a livestock hub and from the industrial park, according to the airport’s masterplan developed in 2014.

The environmental study will pave the way for construction, which can begin when the Federal Aviation Administration approves the project based on the study’s results.

“They look at noise. They look at the different traffic levels. They look at the birds and the bunnies and look at all the wildlife issues and look at groundwater. They look at any kind of stormwater impacts. They look at any endangered wildlife issues. They look at air quality during construction,” Grow said.

Grow said he would come back to the city council with more details on the scope of the project at the next meeting.

“This is a full-blown environmental assessment that will take a full year to complete, so it’s a massive undertaking,” he said.

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