VOL. 133 | NO. 157 | Thursday, August 9, 2018
Bids Put Cost of Airport Concourse Renovation near $250 Million
Special to the Daily News
Estimates for Memphis International Airport’s long-awaited concourse overhaul have climbed toward a quarter billion dollars.
At $245.5 million, the latest “all in” budget includes 25 new jet bridges for passenger loading and unloading, a full complement of moving sidewalks and energy-efficient dynamic glass that adjusts to changing environmental conditions.
Favorable bids mean the airport won’t have to skimp on passenger-friendly features, upscale finishes and art, Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority officials said Wednesday.
Airport executives will recommend awarding Flintco the main contract of $122,582,530 for demolition and reconstruction of part of the Y-shaped B Concourse. It’s slated to be updated with wider corridors, taller ceilings, 23 gates and passenger holding rooms for domestic flights and two gates for international flights.
The Flintco award is expected to be on the airport authority’s board agenda for approval Aug. 16, clearing the way for construction to begin in September.
Flintco’s bid was the lowest of four submitted in late June by prime contractors that had previously been deemed qualified to carry out the modernization project.
The other three bids were Archer Western Construction, $156 million, Caddell/FS360 Joint Venture, $128 million, and Yates & Sons Construction, about $125.8 million. Flintco met a proposed minority participation goal of 26 percent, and the other three companies exceeded the goal.
The board’s planning and development committee reviewed the bidding results and project budget and financing package Wednesday.
A $32 million contract with Aero Bridgeworks for new jet bridges, also called passenger boarding bridges, may also be on the board’s Thursday, Aug. 16 agenda, Scott Brockman, airport president and chief executive officer, said.
Aero Bridgeworks was the only qualified bidder for the jet bridge project; officials said Grinder Taber Grinder didn’t adequately respond to a minority participation requirement.
The jet bridge proposals included a range of work, from refurbishing existing bridges to buying new. New bridges will cost about $6 million more than gutting and totally overhauling existing bridges, but officials said the extra expense would be worth it.
“To us, one of the biggest complaints we get is we’ve got crappy jet bridges,” Brockman said.
In addition to buying the bridges, the project would modify gate areas to accommodate the bridges. The bridge would could handle a range of aircraft including the latest generation of Boeing 737s, Brockman said.
The B Concourse modernization is an attempt to update a more than 55-year-old facility while right-sizing the airport’s overall gate capacity.
Flight activity has fallen dramatically since Delta Air Lines pulled the plug on its connecting hub, but the number of local people flying out of the airport has actually gone up.
Once the modernization is completed in 2021, the airport would shift domestic flights to the eastern leg of B Concourse’s Y; two international gates would remain in the western leg of the Y, and A and C concourses would be mothballed for future expansion needs.
The cost and scope of the concourse modernization project have increased substantially since 2014. The original $114 million plan was to reuse most of the existing structure in a renovation of the B Concourse.
In spring 2017, the airport presented a modified plan that called for razing large parts of the concourse to ground level, with new facilities built from the ground up. The total price at the time was pegged at $214 million.
The airport plans to pay for the modernization through a combination of debt, grants, available capital funding and Federal Aviation Administration-approved passenger facility charges (PFCs).
Chief Financial Officer Forrest Artz said the FAA this summer approved the airport’s plan to institute PFCs to pay for portion of modernization. The airport’s application for a PFC of $4.50 a passenger per departure had been pending since last year.
Memphis is one of the only major airports in the country that doesn’t charge a PFC.
The airport plans to market about $128 million in bonds for the project Aug. 20-21 and close on the bond sale in early September, Artz said.
The “all in” price includes contingencies, design services and various components covered by other contracts, such as electrical upgrades, equipment and signs, furnishings and wayfinding, airline operations buildout and tenant relocation.