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Palm Beach Gardens-area airport could get longer runway

An aerial shot of an airport.
Draft Environmental Assessment
Stet Palm Beach
The county wants to expand the diagonal runway at the North County Airport to 6,000 feet. Beeline Highway is at the top of the photo. Unshown is Avenir, to the left and down.

After years of study, the public has until May 21 to weigh in on detailed plans to extend the diagonal runway at the North Palm Beach County Airport.

The county has been pursuing the extension to 6,000 feet from 4,300 feet since identifying the need in 2006. It would allow more jets, including Cessnas and Gulfstreams.

“The proposed project is expected to induce an increase in aircraft operations at the airport to meet existing demand from larger aircraft,” a recently completed consultant’s report says.

An expected 2,500 more aircraft operations are projected by 2030 over the 110,346 already anticipated. Jets would account for about 700 more operations. 
The total project is expected to cost $25 million and be completed by 2025.

Environmental Science Associates of Tampa’s $1 million Draft Environmental Assessmentreviews alternative options and documents impacts such as noise and wetland destruction.

A $743,000 federal grant helped pay for the report. The COVID-delayed study began in 2019.

The county-owned airport is just outside of Palm Beach Gardens west of the terminus of PGA Boulevard at the Beeline Highway. The airport opened in 1994 as a general aviation reliever for Palm Beach International Airport.

In 2016, Palm Beach Gardens signed off on the expansion as long as the county applied for a control tower, which is included in the county plans. 

Since then, construction has begun on nearly 4,000 homes, most selling for more than $1 million, in Avenir, about a mile southwest of the airport.

The study found no noise impact on Avenir because it lies beyond high-noise areas, which are confined to the airport grounds.

About 12.5 acres of wetlands would be affected by the runway and taxiway extension and the move of a portion of the airport access road. Another 21 acres would be subject to tree trimming at the edges of the runway.

No wetlands in the county-owned Loxahatchee Slough would be affected. The county would replace the destroyed wetlands nearby.

Residents can see the plans at a workshop at 5:30 pm May 14 at Palm Beach State College’s Palm Beach Gardens Campus, Biotech Building, Room SC-127, 3160 PGA Blvd. Staff will accept public comments starting at 6:30 pm.

Comments also may be mailed to Palm Beach County Department of Airports, 846 Palm Beach International Airport, West Palm Beach, FL 33406 by 5 pm May 21 or sent by email to F45EAComments@esassoc.com.

A comprehensive review of airport projects was scheduled for yesterday's County Commission meeting.

Consolidating car rental facilities at PBIA near the terminal would cost $315 million while consolidating north of Belvedere Road would cost $171 million. Parking costs could be going up.

This story was originally published by Stet Palm Beach, a WLRN News partner.

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