Low Bid on Louisiana Airport Hangars Still Too High

BURNSIDE - The apparent low bid to build 20 new hangars at the Louisiana Regional Airport came in 20 percent higher than projected and would leave the airport without enough money to finish the project and cover financing costs, airport authority officials said Tuesday.

Members of the Ascension-St. James Airport and Transportation Authority Board didn't settle on the next step and have taken the bids under study to allow the board attorney and other officials to consider the options.

The board received approval from the state Bond Commission in November for issuing up to $770,000 in revenue bonds to pay for the hangars at the general aviation airport in Burnside.

The apparent low bid from Bryan Bush Construction Co. Inc. of Baton Rouge was $780,619, said airport consulting engineer Brian Smith of Professional Engineering Consultant Corp. in Baton Rouge.

When costs needed to complete the bond transaction and required reserves are included, the airport could be about $140,000 to $170,000 short under Bryan Bush's bid, airport officials said.

Smith and other airport officials blamed rising materials prices and higher construction costs following Hurricane Katrina.

"That's a little high, but not out of line with what we've been seeing since Katrina," Smith told the board.

The other two bidders were higher. Gen-Con Inc. of Vacherie submitted a bid of $837,981 and Guy Hopkins Construction Co. Inc. of Baton Rouge turned in a bid of nearly $1.038 million, a summary shows.

Two companies pulled packets but did not submit bids, Smith said.

The authority board may have limited options other than cutting back the project.

Airport Manager Mickey Marchand said it might be tough to go back to the state Bond Commission after Katrina and get authorization for more money, and rebidding may not lower the costs.

Smith said changing the design of the hangar doors could save $80,000, and Marchand said cutting out two of the eight larger executive hangars could save about $85,000.

The possibility of selling some corporate hangars once they are built also was proposed.

The board scheduled a special meeting March 14 to revisit the bond issue and also requested Smith to ask Bryan Bush to hold its bid for a month.

In other business, the board accepted without opposition the bid of Aviation Specialists Inc. to lease land at the airport annually at 15 cents per square foot.

Marchand is president of the corporation, which was the only bidder.

Aviation Specialists serves as the airport's limited fixed-base operator.

Marchand said the commercial hangar, which would include a waiting area for visitors and crew, would be 15,000 square feet in size and would allow Aviation Specialists to become a full fixed-base operator.

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