Atlanta quiet on contract to oversee $1 billion in planned construction

By David Pendered

A major contract to manage more than $1 billion in planned construction at Atlanta’s airport is on schedule, though an airport official won’t discuss even the schedule.

Atlanta International Terminal

Atlanta intends to hire a program manager to oversee construction projects expected to cost more than $1 billion. The source of funding has not been identified, but city officials think growth trends will require ongoing renewal and expansion. Credit: Donita Pendered

Airport spokesman Reese McCranie said in text messages that the process of selecting a contractor is “moving along nicely and is on schedule.” But that’s all he would say.

“As it’s an open procurement, we can’t really comment or provide anything that isn’t already in the RFP [request for proposals],” McCranie concluded Feb. 11.

On Monday, McCranie reaffirmed that could not provide additional comment.

Atlanta is seeking a program manager to “implement and execute” the airport’s short- and long-term master plan. The scope of work includes advising airport officials on renewal and replacement projects intended to enable the airport to handle expected growth in passenger and cargo services at the world’s busiest passenger airport.

The annual cost of these construction projects is expected to “easily” exceed $100 million a year, according to the RFP regarding Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The construction cycle is expected to last 10 years or more. Funding sources have not been identified.

Atlanta conducted a pre-bid conference on the RFP on Oct. 14. The initial deadline for proposals was Nov. 5, and was extended to Dec. 17 without explanation.

Denver airport construction project

In Denver, the project manager was replaced as construction costs have increased from $500 million to more than $737 million. Credit: denverinfill.com

If the process of selecting a program manager follows the course used in 2011 on the airport concessions contracts, the proposals submitted on Dec. 17 are being reviewed by a team of airport executives. The team will make a recommendation that will be delivered to the Atlanta City Council, which can accept or reject the recommendation. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed will execute or reject the contract approved by the council.

A lengthy list of planned projects includes preparing to build a sixth runway and expanding other runways; relocating taxicab assembly areas; fixing roofs and parking decks; improving signage; and adding solar farms and vehicle charging stations to improve the airport’s sustainability.

The contract could extend for 15 years. The RFP cites an initial five-year term, with two potential renewal options of five years each. The RFP does not appear to mention any notion of the value of the contract.

Huge cost overruns at Denver’s airport indicate the importance of a strong program manager.

Atlanta Airport International Terminal Only Vendor in Atrium

The next airport program manager is expected to oversee the completion of the concessions upgrade program, which was started in 2011 and the city says is 90 percent complete. Credit: Donita Pendered

An initial project cost of $500 million has skyrocketed to a projected $737 million and could go higher, according to a Nov. 10 story in denverpost.com. Denver is building a hotel and transit center that’s to be anchored by a 519-room hotel and conference center under Westin’s flag.

The program manager, Parsons Transportation Group, was cited in a city audit for spending money faster than appropriate and was replaced by Mortenson, Hunt and Saunders, denverpost.com reported.

Santiago Calatrava left the Denver project, according to denverpost.com. In Atlanta, Calatrava was to have designed and built Atlanta Symphony Center, which struggled for funding in the years leading up to the great recession and was not built.

In Atlanta, five teams evidently are vying for the program management contract. According to a Dec. 17 report by Atlanta’s Department of Procurement, the teams are:

  • Atlanta Program Partners, comprised of CH2MHill, Rohadfox Construction, and Thrasher.
  • AECOM Technical Services.
  • The Louis Berger S.L. King Technologies, Inc.
  • A3, comprised of Parsons Brinkerhoff, Inc., H.J. Russell & Co., and Heery International, Inc.
  • Diversified Aviation Consultants.

No further information about Diversified Aviation Consultants was provided on the city’s document. No company by that name is cited on the sign-in sheet at the pre-bid conference meeting on Oct. 14. No company by that name is registered with the Georgia Secretary of State.

 

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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