Miami Terminal Completion Up in Air

Mar. 8--The already-delayed South Terminal at Miami International Airport might not be finished until February 2007 because the airport and its contractor are haggling over who should pay for construction changes.

Parsons-Odebrecht Joint Venture, which also is in charge of finishing the North Terminal, is expected to submit to MIA this week a bill of how much it will cost to accelerate construction and finish the job by September as planned. It reportedly told its subcontractors recently that February is the likely completion date.

"There has been some posturing back and forth," said Preston Ross, MIA's South Terminal project manager. "They will come out with a global settlement. We'll analyze it, and either we'll accept, or we'll go into dispute."

Compared with the troubled North Terminal, the South Terminal has been a smooth project.

Still, some of the roughly $50 million in construction change orders over the past year have delayed the terminal's completion.

What's unclear is how much is MIA's fault -- and how much the contractor must pay.

The original completion date was this month. Opening then was pushed back to July, and then to early fall because of problems installing a fiber-optic communications system.

"[The contractor] is hanging their hat on the last 14 months of change activity," Ross said.

A February finish date means passengers might not be able to use the terminal until April or May 2007.

South Terminal consists of a remodeled Concourse H and 15 new gates in Concourse J.

Connecting the two concourses is the spacious, futuristic terminal with a new immigration facility.

It was built to placate the domestic competitors of American Airlines, who objected to the county subsidizing the construction of its new home at the North Terminal. South Terminal will house members of the Star Alliance -- United Airlines and its partners -- as well as members of Delta-led SkyTeam. A total of 26 airlines will move into the terminal.

A spokesperson for Parsons couldn't comment on the terminal's project Tuesday.