Second Probe Launched into Myrtle Beach Terminal Project

April 6, 2007

Apr. 5--A local activist has persuaded a second federal agency to look into Horry County's terminal project at the Myrtle Beach airport, the FAA confirmed this week.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General is now reviewing plans for the estimated $228 million terminal along with the FAA, which opened its investigation last month, said Scott Seritt, manager of the FAA Atlanta airports district.

Both agencies are looking into complaints by Doug Decker, a Pawleys Island engineer who says the county has mismanaged the project.

The Office of Inspector General is an independent arm of the federal DOT that checks projects for efficiency, waste and fraud. Any citizen can request an agency investigation via a telephone hotline.

"We do not comment as a matter of policy on what we may or may not be investigating," OIG spokesman Brian Dettelbach said.

Decker said he requested the new investigation and recently spent more than four hours in his home with OIG agents discussing the terminal plans.

The agency ordered him not to comment on discussion topics, he said.

"They were extremely well prepared ... we went over details of regulations and what the regulations call for," Decker said.

Decker claims the county did not follow federal contract guidelines, has not factored in new development around the terminal site and is poised to pay too much for construction.

The FAA denied the majority of nine concerns it received from Decker, including the contract and new development on the Myrtle Beach air base. It plans to make a determination in a couple weeks on claims that the terminal is too expensive, according to Seritt.

The Office of Inspector General contacted the FAA this week about the project and the costs and plans to make a determination, Seritt said.

County airport staff traveled to Atlanta this week to answer questions about the terminal and costs, according to Seritt.

The county gave the FAA the most recent $182 million construction estimate it received in December from its lead contractor, Skanska USA, County Airport Director Bob Kemp said.

He said he has not been contacted by the DOT Office of the Inspector General.

"We think they [costs] are reasonable," Kemp said.

The construction costs were below budget and with financing added, the total terminal cost was estimated at $228 million.

Contact TRAVIS TRITTEN at 626-0303 or [].