Area officials have been placing a lot of hopes and dreams on the new 800-plus acre megasite at Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTIA). However, now there’s a major snag, one that reared its truly ugly head at the Tuesday, Aug. 27 meeting of the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority, the board that runs PTIA.
Airport officials have been seeking a construction company to build the roadway across the now complete taxiway bridge over I-73 to connect the airport to the new megasite. However, the authority only received one bid for the project and, at the Aug, 27 meeting, airport staff stated that that bid was ridiculously high.
The board rejected the sole bid, leaving the airport with a major roadway problem.
PTI Executive Director Kevin Baker said at the meeting that the intensely high demand on construction companies is no doubt the major factor in the lack of bids. He said he found the current construction market conditions surprising in scope.
“For the second time in now 29 years of being in construction-related businesses one way or another, we had zero bidders,” he said. “I have just never seen this happen.”
On this second attempt at bidding the project, the airport did actually receive one bid but that bid was so absurdly high in Baker’s opinion that he didn’t even count it as a serious bid for consideration.
“It just tells you what the bidding market is like out there,” Baker said. “That bid price is significantly higher than the engineers’ estimate – much, much higher.”
Baker added, “There are some specific items in there that the engineers as they reviewed the bid feel are just, frankly, ridiculous in their size.”
He said that the mobilization part of the proposal, for instance – basically getting all the equipment in place and getting the project ready to start – usually comes to under 5 percent of the project’s cost.
“The mobilization on this project was a million dollars on their $8.6 million estimate before that mobilization is added,” Baker told the board.
He offered other examples as well.
“We just feel that these prices are reflective of a poor bidding environment and we don’t think that this bid should be accepted by this Authority,” he said.
Airport officials plan to restructure the bid package and give the construction project a longer timeline in hopes that that will generate more interest from bidders.
Guilford County officials have been planning for PTIA’s coming new large mega-site to pull in high-value aviation companies and create a lot of jobs. Area economic development officials in recent years have been highly focused on adding more aviation names to the current list in the area and the new mega-site has been quickly becoming ground zero of economic development efforts. However, the major attraction of that megasite is that it will have runway access – something it clearly won’t have until this taxiway project is complete.