Two Central Florida Airports to Expand

Sanford, Daytona airports get $12.5 million in federal grants for expansion and improvement projects


Mar. 11--SANFORD -- Two fast-growing Central Florida airports received injections of federal cash Friday that will pay for expansion and improvements.

The $12.5 million in grants is targeted for Orlando Sanford International and Daytona Beach International airports.

"The Federal Aviation Administration forecasts that in the next 10 years we'll see [national] passenger counts at the level of 1 billion passengers [per year]," said Deputy U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Maria Cino in making the announcements.

Sanford will get $7.4 million to expand part of its international terminal and to pay for expanding the concrete apron. The money also will be used to improve runway lighting. An additional $2.7 million will be used to buy land east and west of the airport as a noise buffer.

The terminal expansion will give federal customs officials more room to handle the growing number of international passengers at the airport, said Larry Dale, airport president.

"On our busy days we see 6,000 or 7,000 passengers move through here," he said.

The money also will pay for new baggage carousels at the terminal, Dale said.

Cino said the Sanford airport has seen annual passenger levels grow from 48,000 in 1996 to 1.7 million anticipated this year.

"That's why we're constantly looking at all kinds of upgrades from expansion to new technologies so that we can move people faster and safer," she said

Cino, who made stops at both airports, also announced $2.4 million for an additional instrument landing system in Daytona Beach. The new system will allow instrument landings from the east. The airport has such a system for landings only from the west.

"Our hot-button issue is that we get special events during the year like the Pepsi 400 and the Daytona 500, and we have planes flying in from all over the place," said Steve Cooke, the airport's director of business development.

The additional landing system could be operational in less then two years, he said.

Robert Perez can be reached at 407-322-1298 or rperez@orlandosentinel.com.

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