Airports are busy hubs of activity and strong indicators of how the economy is fairing.
Jacksonville International Airport (JIA), like many in the U.S., saw a significant drop in traffic when the recession hit. During the recession, passenger traffic at JIA fell from 6.3 million in 2007 to 5.6 million in 2009, according to the Jacksonville Aviation Authority.
The tide may be turning, however. Last year, the airport saw 5.3 million passengers, up from 5.1 million in 2013.
The Florida Department of Transportation is building a new JIA Access Road from Airport Road to Pecan Park Road, a distance of 2.6 miles. The project is an extension of State Road 243.
The new access road is designed to address airport-related traffic flows and accommodate JIA’s future expansion plans. The JIA Access Road project is part of a comprehensive plan to enhance movements in and around JIA.
The two-lane highway project includes one 12-foot travel lane in each direction, five-foot wide paved shoulders and a new five-foot wide sidewalk along the east side of the road.
The project includes a 140-foot long bridge over a marsh area, four new ponds and new guardrail in various locations. New traffic signals will be installed at Airport Road, a new signalized intersection will be constructed at Owens Road and a stop sign will be installed at Pecan Park Road.
In addition, the cul-de-sac at the west end of Sundale Road will be shifted slightly away from the path of the new road and reconstructed.
A section of Owens Road is currently closed for construction. Motorists traveling west on Owens Road toward the airport are detoured east to Ranch Road and south to the airport service road to continue west to the airport.
FDOT hired Superior Construction Company Southeast of Jacksonville to build the project for $15 million. Completion is anticipated in spring 2017.
JIA has a long-standing plan to add a new wing, “Concourse B.” A model near one of the airport’s food courts shows it branching out between Concourse A and Concourse C, with 15 bridges to connect planes to their gates.
The plan will move forward when the airport needs more capacity, according to airport officials.