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Sat, Dec. 14

Airport terminal groundbreaking pushed off

Prescott City Council members view the design for the interior of the new terminal at the Prescott Regional Airport during a meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 24. The city announced this week that the federal funding for the project is still pending, but that it should be announced within weeks, if not days. (Cindy Barks/Courier)

Prescott City Council members view the design for the interior of the new terminal at the Prescott Regional Airport during a meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 24. The city announced this week that the federal funding for the project is still pending, but that it should be announced within weeks, if not days. (Cindy Barks/Courier)

Without a federal grant firmly in hand, the City of Prescott has postponed the groundbreaking for its new $13.9 million airport terminal project.

Prescott Regional Airport Director Robin Sobotta told the Prescott City Council this week that the groundbreaking will no longer take place on Oct. 4, as originally planned.

Still, city officials are hopeful that the federal grant award will be announced in the coming weeks, if not days, and the event will be rescheduled within the month.

Sobotta made a presentation to the Prescott City Council on Tuesday, Sept. 24, on the pending terminal project.

While the project was originally expected to be on the council’s voting-session agenda for an official go-ahead, Tuesday’s discussion occurred during a council study session, and no vote took place.

Sobotta noted that while she remains “very positive” about the federal grant that the city has requested, the award is not yet official.

Without that final word, Sobotta said the city opted to postpone the official groundbreaking. Also entering into the decision was the fact that several state officials had indicated that they wanted to attend the groundbreaking but could not make it on Oct. 4.

Sobotta said after Tuesday’s meeting that she expects the groundbreaking to be rescheduled sometime in the next month.

ESTIMATED COSTS

Earlier in September, the city received a “guaranteed maximum price” of $13,894,531 from its contracting team, Willmeng Construction/Fann Contracting.

Sobotta said the city then submitted that price to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for review, and the agency has since accepted the guaranteed price.

In addition to the construction price, the project includes $1,187,715 in construction administration costs. Also adding to the cost is a $579,889 baggage-handling system, and $150,000 in furniture, fixtures and equipment.

In all, the total cost of the project is set at about $15.8 million.

Sobotta’s presentation noted that about $12.2 million of that total would be eligible for FAA grants. She explained that only the public areas in the terminal are eligible for federal funding.

Based on the city’s projections, the possible funding breakdown includes: $9.33 million in federal supplemental money; $1 million in state funding (already in this year’s state budget); $3.5 million in city money (already in the city’s budget); and $2 in federal entitlement/discretionary and/or state funding from the coming fiscal-year budget.

GROWING NEED

About a year ago, SkyWest Airlines, operating as United Express, began providing commercial service at the Prescott Regional Airport, with daily flights to and from Los Angeles and Denver.

During its first year, the airline served about 27,000 boarding passengers (enplanements). Factoring in the passengers who arrive at the airport as well, Sobotta said the passengers passing through the terminal totaled 53,614.

With such high numbers, Sobotta said, “Those passengers are pretty much wall-to-wall” in the city’s existing 1940s-era terminal.

After discussing the need for a new terminal for years, the city began the programming for the project in the spring of 2018, with the preliminary design occurring in the fall and winter of that year.

The design development continued in late 2018 and early 2019, and by March, the final design and construction documents were underway. The design wrapped up this month with the guaranteed maximum price.

DECEMBER 2020 COMPLETION

That guaranteed price from the contractors will be effective until Nov. 18, Sobotta said, and she expects the notice to proceed from the city to happen by about Nov. 1.

Assuming that happens, Sobotta said, “We will occupy the building by Christmas of next year.”

Council members had few questions and were complimentary of the terminal plans and the progress to date.

In response to a question from Councilman Steve Sischka about the type of security equipment planned for the new terminal, Sobotta said the city expects to be approved for advanced imaging technology, which would screen passengers without physical contact.

Noting the expected Christmas completion date, Mayor Greg Mengarelli asked, “We’re going to see a big red bow on this in December 2020?”

Sobotta responded that airport officials believe the project is on track for a late-2020 opening.

The new terminal will consist of 17,859 square feet of interior space, along with several outdoor courtyard areas.

While the city awaits the federal grant award, demolition is expected to begin on Monday, Sept. 30, on several T-hangar and T-shade structures to make way for the new terminal building and road system.

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