The San Jose City Council Tuesday unanimously approved the purchase of a $6.5 million airport computer system that will keep passengers better posted on flight information and allow the airport to easily move airline flights among gates and ticket counters.
The approval also included an additional $2.48 million for five years of system maintenance and support and an $850,000 contingency fund for unforeseen cost overruns. Grand total: $9.8 million.
Installation of the new airport technology system, provided by winning bidder Air-Transport IT Services of Orlando, Fla., could begin within six months, probably starting with the older Terminal C, airport officials said.
The new system is part of a five-year, $1.5 billion upgrade of Mineta San Jose International Airport. The system will enable passengers to see three hours' worth of departure and arrival times in big, bold type for every flight from every airline at any terminal.
Ultimately the technology upgrade will feature new 55-inch monitors located near each of the airport's current and future terminals. It also will allow more self-service check-ins through at least two dozen kiosks throughout the airport and even at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center.
During the meeting, some council members expressed concern that the bidding process might have been tainted by a conflict of interest.
Specifically, Mayor Ron Gonzales and Councilman Forrest Williams noted that Miami International Airport's technology chief Maurice Jenkins was among a small group of consultants helping San Jose airport officials review the bid-request language. But Jenkins also acted as a reference for the winning bidder, Air-Transport IT Services, which some said could represent a conflict of interest.
Williams said the city has had problems letting people with a conflict of interest improperly influence big-ticket technology contracts. ``I don't want to be in that position again,'' said Williams.
But Walter Rossmann, the city's chief purchasing officer who was giving the presentation on the new system to the council, and interim City Manager Les White reassured the council that the bid process, which featured four bidders, had been ``squeaky clean.''
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Travelers will find a lot more flight data on banks of 55-inch monitors throughout both of the airport's terminals and will be able to check in at more kiosks.
SJC officials, forced by a stumbling economy and worried airlines, will soon unveil a drastically scaled down plan for expansion.
The city council voted unanimously to place a moratorium on bids for airport construction while aviation officials weigh a plan that would drastically scale back the city's once-ambitious expansion.
The project is the first part of a $1.5 billion plan to overhaul the airport over the next 11 years.