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Contingency considered for terminal project changes

Southwest Georgia Regional Airport’s Aviation Commission met Monday night to discuss how to handle new changes that may occur when construction begins on its new terminal.

Southwest Georgia Regional Airport’s Aviation Commission met Monday night to discuss how to handle new changes that may occur when construction begins on its new terminal.

ALBANY, Ga. -- With the ground breaking for a brand-new multi-million airport terminal a week away, member's of the city's Aviation Commission discussed Monday how to handle any change orders that may come along after construction begins.

The new terminal will replace the 60-year-old McAfee Terminal, the state's oldest continually operating passenger terminal, and help bring the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport into compliance with post-9/11 government regulations.

The groundbreaking for the terminal is set for Monday.

At the aviation board meeting, commissioners met with the project managers, architects and principals on the project to hammer out more timeline details and ways to handle any changes to the site plan.

"I get nervous anytime we start talking about change orders," Commissioner Sanford Hilsman said. "I know we're going to have some, but ideally, I'd hope that we would shoot for as few as possible."

Kevin Bingenheimer, one of the principals orchestrating construction of the terminal project, said that the plan is to adopt the existing city of Albany change order process so that everyone is speaking the same language, if a change order is necessary.

"We have a good idea where everything is what the situation is with the terminal site itself, but in the portion that goes out to Newton Road ... the utilities and things like that are marked but usually there is something blocking the way," Bingenheimer said.

Ward V City Commissioner Bob Langstaff, who is the City Commission's delegated representative on the Aviation Commission, said it would be a good idea to develop a contingency fund for change orders, so that the time-sensitive issues wouldn't necessarily have to wait for the full commissions to convene for approval.

"If we set a small pot of money aside as a contingency, I think it would serve as a bit of a safety net a keep the project going, since there is such a short fuse on many of these deadlines," Langstaff said.

In other business, Director Yvette Aehle gave the monthly roundup of airport-related numbers, which were a mixed bag.

Overall, enplanements -- passengers boarding aircraft in Albany -- for the year remain down 4.6 percent, but comparing February 2012 to February 2011, shows an uptick of 7.8 percent. Year-to-date, 23,799 people have boarded planes at the airport.

Deplanements -- or people who get off a plane at the airport in Albany -- are also down for the year, but down less than enplanements. According to the numbers, deplanements are down 3.5 percent year-to-date, but are up by 6.8 percent month-to-month.

So far this year, 23,181 people have gotten off a plane at the airport.

While passenger traffic is down for the year, the freight flying out of Albany -- Georgia's second largest cargo airport -- is really taking off.

Air freight out of the airport is up 89.5 percent compared to last year, Aehle said.

Freight into the airport was up, but not as much as it was leaving, numbers show. The freight flow into the airport was up 24.2 percent from last year.