In 2017, the St. Marys airport was closed due to security concerns with the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Camden County. As part of the agreement for the closure, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has been assisting Camden County in completing the steps required to plan, design, and construct a replacement airport for the community. The Department of Defense (DoD) provided approximately $4.5 million to assist with those efforts.
The Camden County Board of Commissioners is working diligently to replace this necessary asset for community development, growth, transportation, and tourism. The replacement airport is in the Georgia Aviation System plan and in the alternate National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS).
Past Timeline of Activity:
- In 2001, the existing St. Mary’s airport was identified by DoD as a security risk
- In 2005, GDOT completed the first Site Selection Study for a replacement airport
- In 2016, the DoD assisted in removing the remaining federal obligations to closing the airport
- September 14, 2017, St. Marys Airport was permanently closed
- In 2018, GDOT completed an update of the Site Selection Study that included 28 potential sites. Nine (9) of those 28 sites were studied in the 2005 site selection study and were re-studied for the purpose of the new Site Selection Study
- In 2019, an Exploratory Committee was established with the following participants:
- Camden County Board of Commissioners
- City of Kingsland
- City of St. Marys
- City of Woodbine
- Camden County Joint Development Authority
- Between January 2019 and late 2021, the Exploratory Committee held several meetings for the purpose of discussing the replacement airport siting opportunities, strengths, and weaknesses for moving forward with an Environmental Assessment, pending Sponsorship identification, and agreeance from all participating governing bodies
- During May and June of 2019, the county and JDA toured three other general aviation airports in Georgia alongside representatives from GDOT. These site visits included Douglas Municipal Airport (DQH), Statesboro-Bulloch County Airport (TBR), and Thomaston-Upson County Airport (OPN)
- In 2021, the Exploratory Committee concluded their meetings with several findings and recommendations to move the replacement airport forward. The Exploratory Committee estimated that it would take between 6-8 years to complete the replacement airport and the County is still on track, with FAA and GDOT cooperation, to meet that timeline
- Although the County made continues progress towards the replacement airport, it is important to note that some activities were delayed during this timeframe due to the global pandemic that disrupted all government activities from 2020 thru 2022
- On January 18, 2022, the Camden County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution identifying the County as the SPONSOR of the new General Aviation Airport
- In June 2022, the County completed a Financial Study for the construction, maintenance, and operation of the replacement airport, and has received and addressed comments from GDOT, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).