Apr 21 2015
Jim Piggott, General assignment reporter
All fix-winged flight operations at Naval Air Station Jacksonville will be moved to Cecil Airport for nearly a year, starting in June.
The Navy is making the change because of runway repairs at NAS Jax. Along with the aircraft, a large amount of personnel and traffic from NAS Jax will be headed to Cecil Airport as well.
The runways at NAS Jax have not been overhauled since 1967, and there are problems with them.
Capt. Howard Wanamaker, base commander at NAS Jax, said the runways need major attention and the $50 million project will get them ready for new planes and new service.
“This major project involves resurfacing, repairing and improving NAS Jacksonville runways, lighting and airfield infrastructure,” Wanamaker said.
About 30,000 planes a year fly in and out of NAS Jax. All those flights will shift to Cecil Airport during the repairs. Helicopter operations will remain at NAS Jax.
Work at Jacksonville’s largest employer, the Fleet Readiness Center -- known to many in the area as the Navy Depot -- will continue. But some of the planes coming in for work might be towed down 103rd Street to Cecil Airport.
Traffic could be the biggest impact for people living near the Cecil Commerce Center, as personnel head from NAS Jax to Cecil Airport.
“It's going to be approximately 600 to 800 people commuting,” Wanamaker said. “We will also have a bus schedule, a bus route.”
People in the area have been told about the coming changes and most seem to be OK with the idea, because the traffic will be temporary.
“It's not really going to bother me. It's going to be a little bit more noise, but it's not going to affect (me),” said William Nicely, who lives near Cecil Airport. “The road traffic is going to be a little bit heavier coming home.”
Noise should not be a major factor because of the new P-8 squadrons.
“The P-8 aircraft that is going to be operating here from NAS Jax (uses) new technology (and is a) very quiet aircraft,” said Rusty Chandler of Cecil Airport. “We don’t anticipate our noise print getting any larger than it has.”
Residents with questions about the runway project can call 904-542-5588 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Aircraft noise complaints can be made at 904-573-1611 or emailed to email@example.com. Traffic issues can be reported to the Florida Department of Transportation at 850-414-4100 or to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-2190. Traffic information is available at http://www2.dot.state.fl.us/FloridaTrafficOnline.