Airport Authority Granted $4 Mil for State-of-the-Art Baggage System

IMG_1263The Panama City-Bay County International Airport Authority today announced that it has been awarded a Transportation Security Administration grant of just over $4 million dollars for a new Checked Baggage Inspection System at the new airport now under construction.

The grant will also be used for subsequent modifications needed for TSA to install an Explosive Detection system. The new airport is one of several airports to receive this system.

The state of the art security equipment is designed to enhance screening capabilities and airport safety and also facilitate customer service. Construction of the $318 million airport began in January 2008 and is scheduled to open in late May 2010.

Steve Earnest, Federal Security Director said, “This technology will strengthen security and streamline the baggage screening process.” He added, “This baggage handling system will better enable Panama City-Bay County International Airport to detect explosives and other threats while allowing for the growth of the new airport.”

What this means for you is a faster, safer and more efficient Checkin process, essentially cutting out additional lines and steps in getting you from the counter to the plane. As the representatives explained, this comprehensive system will allow patrons to give their bags at the Checkin counter, which will go through a behind the scenes screening process and out the door back to you safely and without waiting in any additional lines. The new technology will improve workplace safety for TSA employees by automating the baggage screening process, eliminating the need for passengers to walk checked baggage to a screening location and waiting for it to be cleared before proceeding to the security checkpoint. It will be the most up to date, efficient system in America.

The enhanced explosive detection technology also will provide on-screen viewing capabilities for TSA officers conducting baggage screening and reduce the number of re-scans and physical bag searches.

Is the New PCB Airport Still on Schedule?

Panama City-Bay County International Airport is still on time to meet its completion date. Taken from a recent article on the NEW-PFN website, here is an updated rundown of construction on the new site.

Contract 1: Heavy Civil and Airfield Lighting
Approximately 91% of contract is complete with 80% of contract time used.

Pond C grading is 99% complete.
Installing Airfield Edge Lighting Conduit and Plazas
Continuing installation of Airside underdrain pipe
Terminal Apron concrete pad is complete
Morrell and Kelly Branch restoration continues

Contract 2: Terminal Building, ATCT and Support Buildings
Approximately 47% of contract is complete with 52% of contract time used.


In the utility area completed form work and compaction and preparing for concrete pour.
Continuing metal framing on 1st and 2nd levels.
In the baggage handling area continuing exterior CMU walls. Work is 60% complete.

Air Traffic Control Tower:

Preparing for concrete pour of stairs and deck Levels 2,3 and 4.
Installing decking and metal stairs floors 5-9.

Terminal Support Facilities:

Air Maintenance Facility – continuing electrical rough-in walls at maintenance office and bays.
Air Cargo Facility – continuing with the installation of MR gypsum wall board.

Rental Car Facility:

Beginning the erection of the pre-engineered metal building.

Public Safety Building:

Continuing block installation at 2nd level administration area.


An average of 155 personnel are on site Monday through Friday and approximately three workers are on site on Saturday.

Contract 3: Utility Contract
Approximately 57% of contract work is complete with 54% of contract time used.

3W2? Power Distribution Duct Bank is 95% complete; installation of wiring by Gulf Power is ongoing.
Street Light Duct Work is 98% complete; light poles being installed (approx. 6-8 per day).
6W4? Power Distribution Duct Bank is 100% complete.
Jack and boring on Main Access Road for fire hydrant installation.
24? Water Main is 98% complete.
12? water main is 99% complete.
30? water main is 90% complete; installation continuing on the utility road.

Lift Station:

Lift Station is 50% complete; plumbing is being installed.

Fuel Farm:

Fuel Farm is 25% complete; electrical work is in progress.

Booster Station:

Booster Station is 40% complete; concrete roofs are poured.


Triturator is 10% complete; vault installation is underway.

Contract 4: Landscape/Hardscape Contract
Approximately 7% of the work is complete with 11% of the contract time used.

Construction is underway on overflow weirs on Main Access Road
Performing soil preparation on Main Access Road.
Hydro seeding of Main Access Road is underway.
Installing aquatic plants at main entrance.

Economic Development Potential for New Airport

Commerical Property News’ CPN Online has published an article detailing the economic development potential of the new Panama City – Bay County International Airport.

According to CPN Online:

Most of the country is waiting for the economy to turn, or even for the federal stimulus to have some measurable effect on local economies, but at least one part of the country has a third option. In the Florida panhandle, in particular the Panama City area, a new international airport–under construction, scheduled for completion next year–promises economic stimulation, both in terms of business growth and real estate development.

“A new business community will be able to grow around the new airport in a way that’s impossible around the existing airport, which is too small and too hemmed in for further expansion,” Randall S. Curtis, executive director of the Panama City-Bay County International Airport, told CPN. “But the long-term impact will involve more than development in the immediate vicinity of the airport. The entire region stands to benefit.”

The full article can be read here.


PC Airport Construction Update – PHOTOS

The new Panama City Airport is less than 12 months from completion and the on site action is really accelerating.  With new construction milestones being made on a weekly basis, new things seem to be growing out of the ground all the time.

The main 8,400 foot runway is 100% complete with final approval still pending from the FAA on the 10,000 foot extension.  I have no idea what the hold up is, only that I’ve been told that it is expected soon (they’ve been saying that for months!).  Once the approval comes in, however, construction of the runway extension will take less than 60 days.  They are also seeding and mulching the main access road for grass.   Sand is being installed on the bottom of Pond C.

The terminal construction is making great progress with the metal framing of the exterior walls in Area A on the 1st and 2nd floor helping to define the overall shape of the building.  The roof decking in Area A, B and a portion of C are almost complete.  The excavation for the pedestrian bridge construction has begun and the fire sprinkler installation in Area A (baggage claim area) has begun as well.

The existing terminal is just over 55,000 square feet.  The new terminal more than doubles the size at 120,000 square feet with ample room for ticket counters, baggage claim, TSA offices, and offices for the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau and a business center hosted by the Bay County Chamber of Commerce.

The air traffic control tower is growing with the structure over 100 feet tall.  The final tower will rise 15 stories into the sky.

Video of Environmental Damage at New Airport Site

Having been up there, I was able to take video of the creeks and waterways that serve as the natural water run-off point for the new Panama City Airport.  Again, I was able to see no apparent damage or side-effects of any damage.  However, apparently, after the comments in the other post, I would need to be in a helicopter to observe the claimed negative effects the airport construction site is having on the environment.

Airport Construction Update – Terminal 18% Complete

Contract 1: Heavy Civil and Airfield Lighting
Approximately 80% of the contract work is complete with only 54% of the contract time used.

  • 90% of the 15” concrete paving lanes have been placed on 8,400 linear feet of Runway 16-34.
  • On Taxiway D and main terminal apron, all lime rock base and the first lift of asphalt paving is in place with the 2nd of four lifts going down this week.
  • The centerline cans on the runway are approximately 36% complete.
  • The lighting cans in the Touch-down zone are approximately 55% complete.
  • Paving will begin this week on the General Aviation Access road.
  • 150 pieces of heavy equipment are in operation at any one time with approximately 200 personnel on site for the heavy civil and utilities contracts.

Contract 2:  Terminal Building, ATCT and Support Buildings
Approximately 18% of contract work is complete with 22.6% of contract time utilized.

Concrete pouring complete for Level 2 Area A. Shoring of Level 2 Areas B and C continues

Air Traffic Control Tower:
Cutting of auger cast piles to design length is complete. Forming for the pile cap has started.

Air Maintenance Facility:
Forming for pit walls continues.

Air Cargo Facility:
Continuing the installation of the pre-engineered metal building.

Public Safety Building:
Rough-in of the plumbing continues.

Rental Car Facility:
Installation of underground facilities continues.

The average man power on site for Contract 2 per day is 95 people based on a five day work week.

Contract 3:  Utility Contract
Approximately 8% of contract work is complete with 11% of contract time utilized.

Main Access Road:
3W2” Power Distribution Duct Bank is 36% complete.
Street light duct work is 50% complete.

Joyner Road:
24” directional bore is complete.
24” water main is 36% complete.

GA Access Road:
30” water main is 9% complete.

Lift Station:
Wet Well is installed.


Okaloosa's Northwest Florida Regional Airport Not Closing

Apparently Okaloosa’s Northwest Florida Regional Airport is not closing, and Okaloosa Airport officials are getting quite snappy about it.  I’ve heard this very rumor for quite some time and have actually participated in some of the speculation.

Some believe that it all started January of 2008 with the Panama City Beach’s Chamber let out an email blast to members that stated that Eglin Air Force Base would shut down commercial airport operations in order to preserve Eglin’s incoming Joint Strike Fighter mission.  I personally remember the email and thought it quite a bold move, but was unable to substantiate the statement.

Other locals to Panama City and Panama City Beach have been known to question whether the Okaloosa airport would stay open for much longer, including well-known attorney, William Harrison and former Panama City Beach Mayor and local news show host Lee Sullivan.  Recently, Sullivan had Panama City Bay County International Airport Director Randy Curtis on his show and made the comment that in the future Okaloosa would have airspace issues with Eglin that may lead to complications in commercial operations.  Harrison’s opinion is that it is of the best interest of the Florida Panhandle that Eglin’s military and the Joint Strike Fighter mission is of the highest priority.

Currently the Okaloosa County Commission is investigating the possibility of legal action against the Panama City Bay County International Airport and have also supported seeking the resignation of Jerry Ray from Coastal Vision 3000.  Ray is one of the VP’s of St. Joe and a prominent supporter of the New Panama City Airport.

Okaloosa’s Northwest Florida Regional Airport Director Greg Donovan said that they will be launching an advertising campaign to counter the rumors.  Recently the Air Force renewed their lease with Northwest Florida Regional through 2032.

Bay County Commission Passes 5th Cent

With the likeness of a modern game or reality show, the suspense was lingering and drawn out.  Chairman Girvin surely is a student of this dramaticism.  The presentation from Dan Rowe, Executive Director of the Bay County Tourist Development Council (TDC) and President of the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) was short and not even necessarily sweet.  It was almost as though he was there only because he needed to be.  Not that Rowe was unwilling, but it seemed apparent that this was all part of a strategy.

Last month the Bay County Commission passed with a majority vote to increase the bed tax collected from 3 cents to 4 cents.  In order to pass the 5th cent increase, a super majority vote was required, that is to say that 4 of the 5 commissioners had to vote in approval.  The lack of the super majority support on the 4th cent influenced Commissioner Mike Thomas to request that voting on the 5th be tabled until the regularly scheduled meeting that was held today so that his fellow commissioners could further educate themselves on the ramifications of this decision.

Out of the six that spoke up about the bed tax increase during the public comment section, 4 spoke in opposition of the increase and 2 spoke in approval.  Among the two one worked for St. Joe, and the other was Chairman Tannehill of the Airport Authority.  Tannehill mentioned that we cannot overlook this opportunity to help Bay County grow.  “Everybody asked for it, we’re giving it to them, we need to be sure it’s gonna work,” he continued.

After Chairman Tannehill spoke, Chairman Girvin asked if anyone else had any comments.  “This room is full of people that have concern either for or against this issue, I can’t beleive that nobody has anything else to say about it,” he said.

There were three motions total, with the first two from Commissioner Mike Thomas, which ultimately failed to carry.  The first motion was to allow the increase to pass with no restrictions, the second was to limit the bed tax to 5 years (the same as the resolution), but to allow the TDC to spend it as they see fit.

The third motion was made by Commissioner and TDC Board Member Mike Nelson.  Discussion led everyone down the road that resulted in some flexible conversation on the part of Chairman Girvin.  He seemed to be making suggestions as to what he could agree with.  Commissioner Bill Dozier at one point asked Chairman Girvin “I can’t be comfortable with the motion until you are comfortable with it, are you comfortable with it?”  Girvin: “Well, I don’t know!”  I had to chuckle as at this point, it seemed as though he was being purposefully suspenseful.

Commissioner Nelson’s initial motion was unclear and after many minutes of conversation it was restructured to adopt the Resolution that the TDC approved yesterday and  to approve the increase.

With no discussion left, Chairman Girvin ordered the roll called.  Going through the ranks, Thomas-yes, Dozier-yes, Gainer-no, Nelson-yes, Girvin- “Before I vote, I would like to make a comment.  No matter which way I go on this, someone will be upset.  I have great respect for many of the people on both sides of this issue,” he said.  “However I have to make the decision that is best for Bay County, as these are perilous times for us, and we need all the help we can get.  On one of the sides, not everyone has been completely honest with me.  I think we would be in err if we didn’t at least give it a try for five years, and with that said, I vote YES.”

When his vote came through after a suspenseful comment, you could hear the crowd sigh and almost burst into applause.  Tourism industry leaders could be seen with ear to ear grins as a seeming victory had been won, as if this was some sort of battle.  I’ve not always agreed in the past with the way the TDC has spent money, and I’m sure I won’t always agree with them in the future, but I think this was a good move and an innovative way to move forward.

Having said that, I just want to be clear on how this money will be spent, as there seemed to be some confusion at the meeting that these funds could be used to directly subsidise an airline – and I don’t think this is the case, as it was explained yesterday (someone, please chime in if I am incorrect).

This 5th cent will be used for advertising, in a cooperative relationship with an airline(s) that may have an interest in flying into our new airport.  For example: a string of advertisements in Chicago that would advertise special rates with X airline on trips to Panama City Beach, FL.  This would give incentive to the airline that their flights here would be well occupied and increase the number of people exposed to our beautiful area.

Good form Commissioners and Board members, good form!

New Aerials of the New Airport

No talk, all pictures:

This is looking from the south towards the north.  The segment off to the right will be the cross-wind runway.  To the far left of the property, you can see a portion of the road that leads up from highway 388.  The main runway, obviously, is right down the middle.

In this photo, you can see the terminal and main parking area.  the upside down U shape is where the terminal will be, I’m not sure that I can tell the overall footprint shape in this picture.

This is looking west from the east, the terminal is on the far side with an exterior service road shown leading to the bottom of the picture.

This picture more highlights the cross-wind runway.

Panama City Bay County Airport Update

Construction at the new Panama City-Bay County International Airport continues to run smoothly and is currently about 3 and a half months ahead of schedule.

The entire project is about 35% complete, with the heavy civil portion, which includes the main runway, approximately 66% complete.

In general, almost 250 workers are regularly onsite each work day.  Offsite quarries, asphalt plants, concrete pipe plants, truck drivers and other ancillary activities will normally employ another 350 people in significant activity.

As the terminal construction and utility installation contracts begin to ramp up after New Years, these numbers will increase

The foundation for the terminal building is underway with concrete being placed in the footers. Foundations are also underway for the various support buildings and the air traffic control tower.   Concrete is being produced by local plants (offsite).

Approximately 40,000 tons of asphalt has been placed on the project to date.  Contractors are currently paving the main apron areas.

Sands and fine aggregates are obtained from local sources while harder aggregates come from mines in Alabama and Marianna, Florida.  Asphalt is mixed by CW Roberts in their Freeport and Panama City plants.

Approximately 55% of the main runway’s 15? concrete paving lanes are now in place.

Aggregates for the concrete are being sourced from local sand quarries and hard rock mines near Perry, Florida.  Concrete is being placed by a team of local contractors that includes operators, finishers, and detailers.

To date 5.4 million cubic yards of earth has been moved on the project site.

Approximately 33,000 linear feet of reinforced concrete pipe has been produced locally and installed by the area’s contractors.

Over 40,000 linear feet of high-density plastic underdrains have also been installed.

Other local contractors are involved with providing dewatering pumps, erosion control and grass seeding.

Work on the underground utilities portion of the project is expected to begin on January 5, 2009.