Air traffic control tower almost ready for bid process

Matt Algarin
This rendering shows what the proposed air traffic control tower in Destin is expected to look like once complete.

Come fall, the proposed air traffic control tower at Destin Airport should be under construction, Okaloosa County Airport officials tell The Log.

“There are a lot of processes involved, but with the way things are progressing, we should be breaking ground by October,” said Tracy Stage, deputy airports director.

Based on the development application, the tower would be six stories and roughly 67.5-feet in height and almost 4,500-square feet. The tower was accepted into the Federal Aviation Administration’s contract tower program in 2012.

Both city leaders and county officials have clamored for an air traffic control tower in Destin due to the heavy aerial traffic that fills the city’s skies, whether its tourism helicopters, military aircraft, private planes, or parasail operators. Currently all air traffic is managed by Eglin Air Force Base.

Stage told The Log this project has been in the works for more than a decade.

“Getting into this program is all about safety,” he said. “We need to have control of the airspace and what’s happening on the ground in Destin.”

With design work complete, Stage said the county will put the project out for bid more than likely in the first week of July. Companies wishing to complete the work will have until late August or early September to submit bids.

Once construction begins, the project is expected to wrap up by “about this time next year.”