The Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) has been the next-door neighbor of New College’s Pei Campus since 1961, when the land many on-campus students now live on was first leased. 60 years later and there are plans to construct a walkway bridging campus and the airport this spring to increase accessibility and provide pedestrians a way to travel between the two locations on foot, pending approval from the SRQ Airport Authority Board.
Vice President for Finance & Administration Christian Kinsley said that the walkway is projected to bridge the two locations at the end of General Spaatz Blvd. and will continue to run alongside Tamiami Trail after connecting to the airport.
Kinsley estimates that construction will begin in either March or April 2021, but only if it receives official approval from the SRQ Airport Authority Board. The board has not yet scheduled any meetings for 2021, but Kinsley believes that they will meet and come to a decision on the matter sometime in January.
The SRQ Airport owns the land that the walkway will be constructed on and is footing the bill, but the airport staff still wanted to alert the New College administration of this potential change.
“The airport actually owns all the land on the other side of [Highway] 41,” Kinsley said. “We have a 99-year lease, and we pay, so we occupy the property. But they’re ultimately the landlords. They own the land, so it’s in their own interest to make improvements.”
According to Kinsley, the walkway was proposed in response to comments from the public about a lack of accessibility.
“They had a couple of community members who approached them and said it was difficult to go from [Highway] 41 to the airport, if you’re a pedestrian,” Kinsley said. “And they recognized that it was true.”
Until a decision is reached in January, students and pedestrians face a grassy slope in order to reach the SRQ Airport from campus. But if the walkway is approved, students can expect construction during the spring semester and eventually a more convenient way of traveling between the two locations.