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Front Page » Top Stories » County Adds 503 Million To North Terminal Budget

County Adds 503 Million To North Terminal Budget

www.miamitodaynews.com
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Written by on May 24, 2007

By Wayne Tompkins
Exasperated Miami-Dade commissioners threw the long-troubled North Terminal project a $503 million lifeline Tuesday, after airport officials assured them that contract changes will let them keep a tighter leash on costs and performance.

"It’s a bitter pill to swallow for all of us," Commissioner Katy Sorenson said. "It makes us very nervous because we don’t know when it really ends."

The construction is part of Miami International Airport’s $6.2 billion in capital improvements, now at least $1 billion over budget.

Commissioners also gave contractor Parsons/Odebrecht Joint Venture an additional 393 days, until June 28, 2011, to finish the North Terminal.

Essentially a half-billion-dollar change order designed to get the project back on track, Tuesday’s award nearly doubles an original $542 million contract.

Aviation Director José Abreu said almost all the higher costs stem from dramatically rising construction fees, including some bids "at 400% more than what was estimated." He said it would have cost the county at least $200 million more to get a guarantee from Parsons/Odebrecht that the new money would cover remaining costs.

The North Terminal’s price tag is threatening the $3 billion mark. The county took over the project from American Airlines nearly two years ago.

When the original contract was negotiated much of the design work was incomplete and "there were many unknowns," County Manager George Burgess wrote to commissioners.

A two-year global construction boom has skyrocketed prices for steel, cement, lime-rock, concrete, oil and other building materials.

Dorrin Rolle was the lone dissenter in Tuesday’s vote, saying his questions regarding the project’s minority contracting had not been answered.

"I hope this is the last we hear about the terminal until it’s ribbon-cutting time," Commissioner Carlos Gimenez said.