The first phase of the project, which is expected to last 30months and open in early 2010, will be located on 1,400 of the4,000 acres. It will consist of a primary runway that is 8,400 by150 feet, a crosswind runway that is 5,000 by 100 feet and a105,000-sf terminal with seven gates. The project also consists ofsmaller buildings to house the control towers, fire stations andother uses, Panama City-Bay County International Airport Authorityexecutive director Randy Curtis tells GlobeSt.com. "The airportwill be constructed in five phases," Curtis says. "Subsequentphases will be started as demand dictates."

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This will be the first airport built in the US since Sept. 11,2001. It will replace an existing airport, built in 1948, that isconstrained by residential and business development and North Bay.The new airport is being built on a "greenfield site" with room forcurrent operations and future expansion to meet requirements overthe next 50 years. "We feel the new airport will have a positiveimpact on the surrounding area," Curtis says. "The existing airporthas quite a few operating restrictions."

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Relocation of the airport also triggers the creation of the WestBay Preservation Area, a 41,000-acre conservation area designed topermanently protect West Bay, one of the most environmentallydiverse ecosystems in the world. The preservation area will protect44 miles of undeveloped shoreline and an additional 33 miles ofcreeks and tributaries.

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The State of Florida has contributed approximately $70 millionto the project. In May, the Florida Department of Transportationissued grants totaling approximately $67 million forconstruction.

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