Costs continue to soar higher yet at Miami International Airport
By Risa Polansky
The complex bag-handling system for Miami International Airport's new north terminal is to cost up to $46 million more than recently planned, bringing its total price to nearly twice the original budget: $201.6 million, up from $104.7 million.
Federal requirements and needed tweaks and upgrades may actually add as much as $63 million, but a $17 million allowance built into the project contract covers part of the increase.
The rest is to come from airport revenue bonds.
County commissioners OK'd the hike without a word at a special committee meeting last week.
Only after a unanimous vote did they invite Aviation Director José Abreu to speak.
The $46 million comes in over budget, he acknowledged.
But he doesn't consider it technically a cost overrun because the changes add value to the system, a "less than desirable design" the county inherited.
The overdue, over-budget terminal revamp began in the '90s under American Airlines.
Miami-Dade took over in 2005 and has wrestled to right the massive project since.
The bag system work is to delay terminal completion about five months, until September 2011, though only international arrivals will feel the effects.
The added $46 million doesn't necessarily mean borrowing that much extra via bonding next year, Mr. Abreu said in an interview.
"We don't expect that all $46 million would have to be borrowed above the current borrowing cap because we have had other savings in the program we could apply."
He estimated going over the cap by about $30 million but doesn't expect to exceed the total amount authorized for the whole capital program's bonding.
The full commission is to vote on the added costs Dec. 15.