SARASOTA COUNTY (WFLA) —Local dignitaries turned over dirt in a celebration marking the groundbreaking of a new terminal at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport on Monday.

The 75,300 sq. ft. terminal will feature five gates, a four-lane security checkpoint, five new ground boarding hold rooms, 970 seats, concessions, and much more.

Airport president and CEO Rick Piccolo says the new addition will help SRQ keep up with unprecedented growth.

“In the month of March, we will exceed a half a million passengers. That will be the first time in the history of this airport it has ever done a half a million passengers in a month. Our growth just continues at an unbelievable pace. In 2018, we did about 1.3 million passengers. We will break 4 1/2 million this yea and that is just unprecedented— 300% growth,” said Piccolo.

In addition to the terminal expansion, the airport aims to add another 1,400 parking spaces in the next year, and eventually “go vertical” with parking.

One area that will not see an expansion, however, is the runway.

“There won’t be a runway expansion. Our runway is 9500 feet, so it has got plenty of capacity for what we have. Actually, in the early 1990s, we did over 220,000 operations. We only did 156,000 this past year, obviously much bigger aircraft, more commercial service aircraft, but the runway is not an issue. It is more passenger capacity and terminal and parking facilities,” Piccolo explained.

Aviation analyst Captain John Cox agreed the runway expansion wouldn’t be something necessary as the airport grows.

“The airport is constrained with the number of runways they can have and the amount of traffic they can handle, but they can handle more than they currently have and if the demand is there, the airlines will adjust their schedules,” said Cox. “They need to get space, we need places for people to be able to eat, to wait for airplanes, and all of the things that go with it, so this expansion at the Sarasota Airport, it is a positive thing for the Bay area.”

The project will cost $73 million and it will be paid for with state, federal, and airport authority funds. It is slated to open in December 2024.