Lafayette airport officials look at new financing method

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — Lafayette Regional Airport commissioners next week will decide whether to endorse a relatively new method of constructing public projects for a new $90 million passenger terminal.

Called "construction manager at risk," project consultant Walt Adams said Tuesday the financing approach could lead to the terminal being completed by 2019 instead of 2020 or later.

Adams has endorsed the CMAR method since he was hired earlier this year to give commissioners guidance as they act on a complicated project.

The financing method brings the construction company in at the beginning of a project, during the design phase. Adams said that allows projects to be completed more quickly, in part because a builder is able to start constructing some parts of the terminal before the design is completed.

He said CMAR could shave a year off the Lafayette terminal's construction, from five years to four.

Design of the terminal will begin at the end of 2015 or beginning of 2016. Between now and then, the airport commission will appoint a panel of Lafayette-area professionals to a committee. The committee will winnow through the proposals for a recommendation to the commission on who should be awarded the project.

"What we looked at was four to five years" from design to completion, Commissioner Paul Guilbeau said Tuesday.

Guilbeau said he and other backers of a new terminal used the four-to-five-year estimates at public meetings leading to a December tax election, when Lafayette Parish voters approved an eight-month parish-wide 1-cent sales tax. The tax started being collected April 1 and will be levied on taxable goods and services until Nov. 30. The $35 million expected to be generated by the tax will help finance construction of an enhanced terminal, more parking and other improvements.

Lafayette's new $90 million airport terminal will be financed by the tax passed in December, by state and federal grants, and by borrowing money through the sale of bonds.

Once complete, the terminal will feature a five-gate concourse with room to add two more passenger gates. It now has three gates.

Passengers also will have an expanded parking lot in front of the terminal, places to purchase and eat food on both sides of the security gates and an advanced baggage handling system.



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