PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Anyone who has traveled through Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in the last three years has likely been forced to deal with road closures, detours, and construction.
Joe Prato lives at the beach for half of the year and it’s something he’s ready to see get done.
“Well it takes a lot longer and people aren’t sure which way they’re going and so it is definitely an inconvenience,” Prato said.
The Florida Department of Transportation is working on realigning the part of State Road 388 leading into the airport.
That project is expected to be completed in 2023.
However, the roundabout is opening soon.
“Maybe a September-ish kind of opening of the roundabout so that they can do some work in some other places but the roundabout has to be open for that to happen,” Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport Executive Director Parker McClellan said. “So we are really looking forward to that. Our big sign has been put back up. It’s going to be lighted here in the next couple of weeks. We’re excited about all of those opportunities that are coming forward.”
The airport’s Executive Director said they are also working on several other travel improvements.
They plan on expanding parking lots by June 30, 2023.
“For the employees, for long-term, as well as our overflow,’ McClellan said. “All of those are things we need because of the tremendous growth that our airport and the community has seen since the pandemic and since really 2019.”
With this growth, they will also need to expand in other areas of the airport like the terminal.
“There will be impacts but we try to work very hard to make sure we minimize those impacts so we continue to have a positive experience even though there’s a lot going on,” McClellan said.
Baggage claims, the bag room, and checkpoints will all undergo renovations in the near future.
While an inconvenience, Prato is happy to see improvements being made.
“We love this area and all of the progress that’s going on at this airport.”
Airport officials are currently working on a strategic plan to fund these projects.