JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After 50 years with no major upgrades, the P-8A runway at Naval Air Station Jacksonville is showing its age and will be getting some much-needed repairs, officials say.
Officials broke ground Monday in a ceremony to kick off a more than $50 million repair project.
"Periodically, we'll have cracks, and the concrete comes up. This will stop the cracking," NAS Jax's commanding officer, Capt. Howard Wanamaker said. "We have pooling of water from rainstorms in the runway, which is bad for an aircraft coming in to land."
The project includes a new 1,000-foot overrun pavement added to the existing runway, along with upgrades to the taxiways and new airfield lighting. The P-8A Airfield is bigger than three football fields.
"It's a rather large project," Wanamaker said.
The project is bringing a sense of sustainability to the base. All the concrete and asphalt taken up from the runway will be recycled and reused for the project.
"One of the great benefits is energy improvements," said Cmdr. Joel Vanessen, public works officer for NAS Jax. "With the new LED lights, we have a reduction of energy on the base."
During construction, all fixed-winged flight operations and personnel at NAS Jax will be diverted to Cecil Airport, which means thousands more flights each month and an increase in traffic for a facility that was a Navy base until 1999.
Wanamaker said they've been planning for the shift for some time and changes have been made to Cecil Airport to accommodate the extra flights and thousands of airmen and airwomen.
"The mission and flight ops will be conducted out of Cecil -- the same ones that would have been conducted here -- but also the sailors (will be accommodated), making sure they have all of the needs and support and services required out there," Wanamaker said.
The $51.9 million project was awarded to Archer Western of Tampa and is expected to be completed in the summer of 2016.
The project could have a negative impact on traffic in the area, but officials said people living near the Cecil Commerce area have been told about the changes and what they can expect in the coming year.
People in the area told News4Jax that they are OK with the plan, because they know it's temporary.
To report questions or concerns, residents can call 904-542-5588 for questions about the runway project or 904-573-1611 to report aircraft noise complaints. For traffic concerns, call the Florida Department of Transportation at 850-414-4100.