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Dallas consultant chosen to launch Tampa airport’s $943 million expansion

Published:   |   Updated: December 5, 2013 at 04:56 PM

Dallas-based design-build consultant Austin Commercial will launch Tampa International Airport’s $943 million expansion project, expected to create 8,000 construction and other preparation jobs, the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority decided in a 5-0 vote Thursday.

The firm said it would use 16 Tampa area firms among 24 involved in the first phase of the project expected to be completed by October 2017. It bested seven competitors to lead the project.

The first phase budget will be $495.7 million for the consolidated rental car facility and a portion of the costs for the automated people mover, similar to trams that operate between the airport’s main terminal and airside terminals where airliners park.

“We’re excited to take this significant step toward launching one of the biggest projects in airport history,” airport Chief Executive Officer Joe Lopano said.

No contracts were signed Thursday — those will be brought before the board in the spring.

The projects that were previously announced as part of an update to the airport’s master plan that was approved in April are intended to decongest airport roadways and main terminal curbside passenger loading and unloading areas and improve the airport’s rental car operations, which take up needed space in the long-range parking garage and whose vehicles contribute to traffic congestion.

It’s part of the aviation authority’s concept to extend the useful life of the airport’s main terminal, which is in line for multiple improvements in the next two decades, and focus new commercial development opportunities on airport, possibly including a hotel, convenience store and gas stations and other businesses.

In other news from Thursday’s board meeting, airport officials said a new Transportation Security Administration mandate that security checkpoint exit lanes be staffed by airport personnel rather than the TSA would cost Tampa International $600,000 in additional annual funding.

Airport officials are seeking a technological solution to prevent unauthorized access to secure areas through the exit lanes and hope other airport industry interests would be successful in getting the TSA to modify its new requirement, which is scheduled to take effect on Feb. 1.

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