Miami International Airport now has not one but two consultants managing its construction program, charging the airport as much as $40 million a year.
Coral Gables firm Sequeira & Gavarrete has been hired to manage construction of the North Terminal, which is being built for American Airlines. Its no-bid contract calls for it to be paid as much as $60.8 million over four years and three months.
And MIA is paying Dade Aviation Consultants roughly $20 million a year to finish the South Terminal and a host of other construction projects. DAC, which has worked at MIA since 1992, will leave the airport at the end of 2007, after Miami-Dade County commissioners told the airport they wouldn't renew their contract a second time.
DAC has billed the airport $221 million since coming to the airport in 1992, through May.
The cost of the construction managers is paid for through the airport's long-term debt.
John Cosper, deputy director of MIA's capital improvement program, said the airport pushed for Sequeira & Gavarrete with a no-bid contract because time is crucial. North Terminal will likely be at least six years late when finished. It has nearly doubled in price.
"We have a project that needs to be moving now," Cosper said.
The airport suffered another setback in May when it opened bids for North Terminal work connecting concourses B and D. Bids for the interiors and structural work budgeted at $90 million came in at more than $410 million, forcing MIA to rebid the job.
Commissioners approved the Sequeira & Gavarrete contract in early July.
Sequeira & Gavarrete worked on North Terminal as a sub-contractor for the previous manager, Corgan Associates. Corgan worked for American Airlines, the previous manager. American was fired by the county last summer.
"I think we can finish this by the end of 2010," said Sequeira & Gavarrete co-owner Fernando Gavarrete. "They are working on a new schedule, and hopefully we can all finish as soon as possible."
Cosper said the airport brought in a second construction manager, instead of giving North Terminal to DAC, for two reasons: The North Terminal project will last well past the end of DAC's contract. In addition, DAC was reluctant to work on the job unless it had more control over North Terminal; Sequeira & Gavarrete was willing to partner with MIA staff on the project.
DAC is supervising far less construction work today than four years ago, when it was managing several projects at once, including a new runway, chiller plant, parking collection area, cargo buildings and airfield renovations.
A consulting conglomerate of eight firms led by Bechtel Infrastructure Corp., DAC is overseeing the final phases of the South Terminal, which is scheduled to open in the spring. DAC is also overseeing security improvements and the installation of communications systems in the airport.
Still, the firm is billing MIA some of the highest rates of its 15-year career. Its monthly bills this fiscal year have averaged $1.69 million.
DAC said it's reducing staff, but those savings haven't yet showed up in its bills.
"We will be billing progressively less," said DAC project manager Paul Francis. "We are having monthly meetings about turning over work to the county."
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