‘Putting the final pieces together’
By KAREN SMITH WELCH
Created Jan 3 2011 – 12:14am
Contractors will change the pathway drivers take to Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport and the pathways bags and passengers take to planes as 2011 begins.
The work constitutes the latest phases of a $52.2 million renovation that will bring a new concourse into operation in late May.
Federal funds will pay the bulk of the cost, 80 percent or more. The city’s portion will come from reserves and from revenues collected through a fee charged to passengers.
While manufacturers tackle fabrication of a mile of baggage conveyor and six passenger boarding bridges, other contractors will build a parking area for drivers picking up arriving passengers.
Terminal project general contractor Western Builders has moved its focus to the inside of the new concourse and to reconfiguring the terminal airline ticket counters.
“We’re down to putting the final pieces together,” city Aviation Director Pat Rhodes said.
Western Builders got the roof on the new concourse in December, “so we’re ‘in the dry’ now,” said Rick Fleming, a senior project manager from the Amarillo construction company.
“We should have some temporary heat on in the new addition within the next week or so, and we’ll be starting all of the finish work inside – the mudding and painting on the drywall partitions.”
KSA Engineers, AUI Contractors and baggage system provider Glidepath Group should be on-site late this month or in February.
AUI will build a parking area where drivers can wait for cell phone calls from arriving passengers before it can get to its larger job – rebuilding the 40-year-old bridge that drivers use to access the second-floor ticket lobby. KSA will manage the projects.
“We won’t be messing with the bridge deck at all until the cell phone lot is functional,” KSA Amarillo Manager Clayton Scales said.
“We want to make sure we’ve got available parking before we take any away.”
Traffic on the bridge and ground-floor access drive beneath it will be reduced to one lane during the construction, eliminating the 10-minute parking now available.
The option of parking cars unattended for 10 minutes will not return.
The upper and lower drives will become active loading and unloading areas only, allowing the city to eliminate a car checkpoint at the airport entrance that the Transportation Security Administration required after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The dozen or so security personnel who work the vehicle inspection point and the terminal operations center will stay on staff, Rhodes said.
“As normal attrition occurs, we probably won’t, at least initially, rehire.”
The aging bridge deck is deteriorating, Scales said.
“I’m sure everybody has seen the pieces of plywood that catch parts that fall off,” he said.
Planning the bridge reconstruction has proven a logistical puzzle. For one thing, smaller equipment will be required due to the overhang that covers the bridge, Scales said.
“It’s not like replacing an overpass on the highways,” he said.
“We’ve done everything we can think of to make this bridge deck last as long as we reasonably could. We’ll be using a coating on the bridge surface itself to keep water from penetrating into the surface of the deck.
The city is paying KSA $207,169 to guide the project. AUI will do the work under a $2.75 million contract.
Glidepath has completed designs for a secure baggage system that will include about a mile of conveyor belt.
“It’s being manufactured right now in Dallas,” said David Mead, a vice president in Glidepath’s Grand Prairie office.
“When that’s done, we’ll fit it all into the new concourse that’s being built. We’ll send our own crew up to put it together.”
The baggage system will include “multiple units” of the latest generation of explosive detection equipment approved by TSA, Mead said.
Choreographed with the baggage system installation will be the remodeling of airline ticket counter spaces, said Richard Constancio, project architect and manager with Shiver Megert & Associates in Amarillo.
Fleming said each airline will be moved, one at a time, for four to five weeks, while its space is being remodeled.
“We probably won’t install anything until the 1st of February,” he said.
The baggage and ticket-counter rehab will allow the city to move baggage screening work out of the lobby and behind the scenes again, as it was before 9/11, Rhodes said.
Meanwhile, Thyssen-Krupp Airport Systems is working on six glass passenger boarding bridges that are due for delivery in April, Rhodes said.
Thyssen-Krupp won the $3.4 million contract for the job in July, with a bid that was 4 percent less than the originally projected cost.
The bridges’ glass walls will continue the facility’s airy architectural theme, City Manager Jarrett Atkinson told the Amarillo City Commission in July.
Bridges currently at the airport are owned by the airlines. They don’t match, and some are not equipped for heating or cooling, he said.
Passengers should be using the new concourse in late May, Rhodes said.
But the project still will have some phases left to complete.
Administration offices will be built in the location now holding the passenger security checkpoint leading to the current concourse.
Then the current concourse will be demolished, Rhodes said.
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