‘Value engineering:’ Missoula airport to bid east concourse as south project sets to open
The first phase of the new passenger terminal at Missoula Montana Airport is set to open for business next April and, as officials gear up for operations in the new facility, they're looking to the second phase of the project.
But with construction costs rising and the availability of contractors limited, airport officials will take their time in feeling out the market. As proposed, the new east concourse carries an estimated cost of $42 million, though deputy airport director Tim Damrow said the new figure includes higher costs.
Those costs could alleviate in the coming months, and value engineering could also help, Damrow said.
“Material prices have increased substantially over what we saw in our initial package, but hopefully this number is reflective of what the market would bear for costs at this point in time,” he said. “We don't know where that's going to go over time, but we hope it's a realistic snapshot of where we're at currently. There's a number of things we can do on our side to try to limit the impact of this cost so it fits into our budget.”
Phase 1 construction of the new south concourse began several years ago and is nearly complete. Once finished, the new facility will include security, a restaurant and lounge, and four jet bridges. Four additional ground gates will be included as well.
The east concourse, now up for review, will include two additional jet bridges with room to expand, plus baggage claim and a car-rental center. The price of the project has risen in recent months, though time could play in the airport's favor.
“Time is our friend in this case,” Damrow said. “Each month we can get further down the road, does give us some better information and more confidence on what we'll see going forward.”
Still, the airport plans to bid the east concourse in early January or February and see how the market responds. Bidding the concourse as a single project will help the airport determine costs and take the appropriate path forward.
“We are estimating that we probably will require an additional $15 to $20 million in additional debt to complete this second phase in its entirety,” Damrow said. “We're tentative to say an official number because there's still a number of things we're evaluating, from infrastructure funding, which is out there looming, to additional Airport Improvement funding that may be available.”
No local taxes have been used or are planned in the facility's construction.
Damrow said the airport is planning a dedication ceremony for the south concourse on Feb. 2, 2022. The full grand opening will follow a month or so later. By then, the full financial picture for construction of the east concourse will be a little more clear.
“Hopefully we'll see some settling out of material prices,” Damrow said. “What this will potentially give us is a full price to build out the east concourse so we can make a fully informed decision on what the actual building is going to cost.”