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Morcon submits low bid for MSP airport project.

Byline: Bridgetower Media Newswires

By BRIAN JOHNSON

BridgeTower Media Newswires

MINNEAPOLIS Airport officials in the Twin Cities are raising concerns about the low number of bids they have received for recent airport projects, including an overhaul of the baggage-handling system at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport's Terminal 1.

On Monday, the commission's Planning, Development and Environment Committee approved the Minnesota-based company Morcon Construction's bid of $27.4 million for the first phase of the baggage-system project. That came in above the MAC's project estimate, which was for $25.4 million.

Even so, Morcon's price was about $5 million below a bid submitted by the Michigan-based company Jervis B. Webb Co., the only other contractor vying for the project. The total project budget is $37.9 million, which includes money for equipment and soft costs, as well as a 5.7 percent contingency.

Alan Howell, the MAC's senior airport architect, said the project drew a lot of interest during its pre-bid phase. Unfortunately, that didn't lead to many actual bids.

"We had at least three bidders that we hoped to see or expected to see," Howell said in an interview on Monday. He's not certain why the other prospective bidders dropped out. Among the likely reasons:The construction industry's persistent labor shortage and competition from other projects, he said.

The two-year baggage project, scheduled to begin in March, is part of the airport's "operational improvements program," an estimated $225 million overhaul of the airport's baggage-claim and ticketing areas. The changes will make the terminal more "light, open, efficient and roomy and ensure it can accommodate the growing numbers of travelers expected to visit MSP in the years ahead," according to the MAC.

Howell said the proposed overhaul of the baggage system is needed, in part, because of other changes that have been made at the airport. Those include new locations for ticket counters and security checkpoints.

Among other things, the project calls for the demolition of existing baggage-handling components that feed into ticket counters and baggage carousels, according to a MAC staff report.

The changes to the baggage system will play out in two phases. The current bids are for the south half of the baggage claim area in Terminal 1. Then work will shift to the north half in a second phase estimated to cost $32 million, Howell said. The second phase is scheduled to be complete in 2023.

At the commission meeting, talk about the baggage project led to a more general discussion about bidding on airport construction and consulting projects.

"I continue to be bothered by the fact that we get so few bidders," said Don Monaco, a member of the Planning, Development and Environment Committe representing outstate Minnesota.

Bridget Rief, MAC vice president of planning and development, said airport projects give inexperienced contractors many reasons to be reluctant to "even think about proposing to do work." The obstacles include requirements related to security and Federal Aviation Administration rules.

MAC staff employees are responding by encouraging bidders to consider working with experienced airport contractors on certain projects, or to pursue smaller chunks of work to gain a foothold, she said.

Brian Ryks, executive director and CEO of the MAC, said at the meeting that he hasgone out of his way to encourage contractors to consider bidding on airport projects.He said many companies appear to have their time taken up by other projects.

"There is a lot of work out there, and it's a very competitive environment," Ryks said.

Morcon is no stranger to working at the airport. In March, Morcon submitted a$34 million low bid for a project calling for the expansion of the airport's faade and the relocation of a security checkpointin the airport's Terminal 1.

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Publication:The Daily Reporter
Geographic Code:1U4MN
Date:Nov 6, 2018
Words:629
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