Friday, February 12, 2010

Construction manager for new airport chosen


After some 10 hours of corporate presentations and in-house deliberations, the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority on Wednesday selected the firm of Mead and Hunt to be the program manager for construction of a new airport to replace Friedman.

However, Friedman's professional staff and Mead and Hunt must negotiate a scope-of-work and fee contract before the selection is made final, which might take as long as six weeks, according to airport authority Chair Tom Bowman.

Also, for the first time since their appointment, members of the Blaine County Aviation Advisory Committee also sat with the airport authority and were allowed inside the closed-door executive session while the airport authority deliberated on the decision. The two advisory committee members attending were Vanessa Fry and Adrienne Robideaux.

Four national firms competed for the contract.

Bowman characterized the final decision as a "close call," adding that it was not unanimous among the five-member airport authority.

Mead and Hunt, based in Madison, Wisc., was also described by Bowman as "the best match for the community." The firm has been a consultant to the airport authority on various projects since 2003, including studies that led to the decision to build a replacement airport and the series of site selection meetings. The firm, which has been managing projects since 1900, also has worked on a number of Friedman-size airport projects in Western states.

The program manager generally will have overall responsibility for construction of a new airport.

Momentum for a new airport has picked up sharply. A financial consultant, Ricondo & Associates of Chicago is completing its study of financing a new field, and consultant Landrum & Brown is completing its work on an environmental impact statement study.

Bowman said well down the road is a so-called record of decision—the Federal Aviation Administration's approval of a site and a go-ahead—that would open the way for construction to begin within 60 days thereafter.

"That's our goal," he said.

A new airport could be opened and operating sometime in 2014, according to past estimates.

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