Apr 21, 2015
A massive overhaul to the fixed-wing runways at Jacksonville Naval Air Station will begin in June at a cost of $50 million, with an expected completion date of May 2016, the base’s commander, Capt. Howard Wanamaker said Tuesday.
In the meantime, all fixed-wing aircraft and their maintenance crews, will operate out of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority’s Cecil Airport.
The temporary relocation will bring about 2,100 additional sailors and civilians to Cecil daily. Although the 2,100 will be broken up in to three different shifts, Wanamaker said.
All helicopter squadrons, which have their own landing pad, will remain at the base.
“This project to repair and close the runway and relocate to Cecil Airport has been in the works for several years,” Wanamaker said. “The last comprehensive overhaul and major repair to the runways were done in 1967, the year I was born.
“This major improvement project involves resurfacing, repairing and improving NAS Jax runways, lighting and airfield infrastructure.”
In recent years, the base has obtained a number of cutting-edge aircraft and platforms including the P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance plane, the MH-60R helicopter and a MQ-4C Triton drone training center.
All help to ensure the air station remains viable in the years ahead and avoids the fate that Cecil suffered when the Navy closed it in 1999.
However, runway work was badly needed.
In September, a failed sewer line created a 3-foot deep sinkhole that opened up on the main runway.
In addition, with the arrival of the larger P-8As came the need for more infrastructure improvements for the base that is now the East Coast hub for the aircraft.
“We’ve already been prepping the taxiways and the areas where we park the aircraft,” Wanamaker said. “We’ve also rehabbed hangars and the facilities that were already here to house Wing 11, VP-30 and other air crew.”
One thing can definitely be expected: An increase in jet noise over the area that should bring back memories — good or bad — for longtime residents.
“The number of flight ops will increase here,” Wanamaker said. “We’re at approximately 30,000 to 40,000 flight operations per year at NAS Jacksonville right now.
“You can expect that increase here.”
People who live and work in the area won’t be subjected to any additional security measures to access their normal routes, according to Cecil Airport chief Rusty Chandler.
Military bases have security gates set up outside them to prevent unauthorized access to the entire base. At Cecil, the only part of the complex that will require military access is the portion already fenced in for civilian planes at the base.
The Navy will provide more security and fire personnel to the airport, however.
To help lighten the traffic load, the Navy will provide buses for some of the temporary commuters, Wanamaker said.
The Florida Department of Transportation’s Ron Tittle did concede things will be busier.
“We do anticipate an increased number of cars,” Tittle said. “Some of that area through that construction zone where 103rd meets Florida 23 will be tightened a little more.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
— For official press releases, visit cnic.navy.mil/jacksonville or cecilairport.com
— For project questions or to sign up for email alerts concerning the project, email email@example.com or call (904) 542-5588
— For noise complaints, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (904) 573-1611
— For FDOT, call (850) 414-4100 or dial 511
— To contact JSO about the project, call (904) 630-2190
Clifford Davis: (904) 359-4103