Runway to be extended at Merritt Island Airport

Local 6 News at 6:00p
Local 6 News at 6:00p

MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. – A little airport in Brevard County is getting some big help. The runway at the Merritt Island Airport is going to be lengthened to make it easier for pilots to land.

"I enjoy the airport. I enjoy seeing the small planes fly over my house and I think it's a great idea," said 20-year Merritt Island resident Sharon Kennedy.

The Titusville-Cocoa Airport Authority plans to fill 1.2 acres of water to extend runway 11-29.

Officials with the airport say overtime erosion and hurricanes eroded the end of the runway, which extends into part of the Indian River Lagoon.

As of right now, the runway area doesn't meet Federal Aviation Authority requirements and pilots complain they don't' have enough time to stop their airplanes.

But some folks are worried the construction will hurt a recovering lagoon. According to the Army Corps. of Engineers, the construction would result in permanent and temporary impacts to sea grass, salt marsh and mangrove habitats.

"I can see why they can be concerned, but there's ways of conserving it also. It wouldn't be a problem to the airport," said Kennedy.

And that's what the airport authority says they're going to do: dredge, clean and fill material to the proper elevation for sea grass to grow again.

90% of the runway construction will be paid by the FAA, 5% will be paid by the Florida Department of Transportation and the other 5% by the airport.

Officials say they could break ground as early as December.