$26.7 Million in Savings May Be Used For D/FW's Terminal A

The money Dallas/Fort Worth Airport saved during the construction of its underground baggage system may turn out to be its own, airport officials have discovered.

Officials eager to be as cost-efficient as possible saved $26.7 million for the Transportation Security Administration during the construction of inline baggage systems in Terminals B, D and E.

Now, with the TSA out of money, those savings could help cover installing the final inline system in Terminal A.

"We believe the TSA does not have sufficient funds to pay for Terminal A," Jim Crites, D/FW executive vice president of operations, told airport board members this week.

Under the original June 2003 agreement, the TSA and D/FW shared the cost of building inline systems for Terminals B, D and E. The TSA paid 75 percent and D/FW the rest. The Federal Aviation Administration provided grant money for the inline system in Terminal C.

In a separate agreement, the TSA agreed to pay for 100 percent of Terminal A's system "subject to availability of funding." But the original designs for the system by TSA subcontractor Boeing -- combined with limited funding imposed by Congress -- left the project too expensive for the TSA.

The project never went forward and the TSA and D/FW have been negotiating for months for some type of solution.

"Because of the excellent project management by D/FW Airport over the inline system in D/FW's other terminals, they were able to realize cost savings over the original budget of that project," TSA spokeswoman Andrea McCauley said.

The proposed new deal will use the $26.7 million in savings to help pay the $35 million cost of Terminal A's new baggage system. D/FW will pay for the rest of the project out of its own pocket.

"The fear we have is if we don't take the deal -- albeit with a gun to our head -- we'll come up $26 million short," D/FW chief operating officer Kevin Cox said.

The proposal, mentioned by Crites on Tuesday at an airport board committee meeting, has not been solidified.

D/FW operations committee chairman Santiago Salinas indicated Tuesday that staff should proceed with the deal.

National TSA officials said Thursday that they are "amenable" to the plan and expect to soon reach an agreement with D/FW on the scope of the work.