Elevators To Stay, GFIA Board Says

September 24, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS —The Kent County Aeronautics Board approved a change order last week that will trim the cost of the Ford International Airport parking ramp and terminal building project by more than $3.4 million.

The savings could have been closer to $3.6 million, but the board refused to delay plans for one new elevator in each of the airport’s two courts. Airport staff recommended that the elevator shafts be constructed but that the installment of equipment and doors be put off to a later date, which would trim about $171,000 off the total project cost. 

Board member Richard Vander Molen questioned the need for delaying build-out of the elevators. The revenue bond issue came in at $130 million, which gives the board “a little wiggle room,” he pointed out. 

“If we were to decide six months after the thing is built that we need those two elevators, I’ll bet you lunch it will cost more than $171,000,” Vander Molen said. “My point is that if it’s something we know we’re going to do later anyway, I think we ought to do it now.” 

Board member Theodore Vonk moved to add the elevators back into the project. “Elevators move people, and that’s what this is all about. They’re an important part of moving traffic,” Vonk said. Board members unanimously agreed.

Some cuts have to be made due to a $14 million discrepancy between the original estimated cost and the lowest bid. The architect, Gresham, Smith & Partners had originally estimated a total project cost of $104 million, but the lowest bid — submitted by the Christman Co. of Lansing — came in at nearly $118 million.

In the past several weeks, airport staff, along with people from Gresham Smith and Christman, reviewed more than 120 potential cost reduction measures that could be taken without perceptibly altering the design of the project, delaying the construction start date or affecting ongoing operation and maintenance costs.

The changes range from the elimination of certain items to changes in specifications. Facilities Director Thomas Ecklund said some of the most significant cost-saving measures include: eliminating the installation of sheet piling around underground utilities for a savings of $989,000; using standard asphalt instead of decorative colored concrete outside the terminal as well as for all other new pavement, reducing costs by just over $187,000; eliminating the staining of the underside of the parking deck to reduce costs by  $600,000; and changing specifications for the exposed architectural steel used in the design of the glass and steel canopy, which will save more than $445,000. As agreed, the contract amount to Christman will be reduced to reflect the changes, Ecklund noted.

Ecklund said additional cost-saving items have been identified and are in the “pending” category, so more items could be deleted or modified via change order in the weeks ahead. Gresham Smith will be paid an additional $28,000 for incorporating the changes into the contract, he said.    

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