Senate approves more money for airport makeover

Posted: Wednesday, May 14, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) Lawmakers approved more bond money Tuesday to complete a huge makeover of the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

The airport project is running tens of millions of dollars over the original budget estimate and state transportation officials have said they need more money to finish the work.

Senate lawmakers approved $76 million more in bonds not to exceed a total project sum of $524.5 million. The project will be paid for from airport revenues.

The project includes terminal, road and parking improvements. The centerpiece is a new 447,000-square-foot Concourse C that will house nine jet gates, a ticketing area, a baggage claim, a security screening hall, offices and operations support space.

The construction when begun in 1999 was expected to cost $230 million. Contributing factors for the cost overruns were a flawed design, a decision to start construction before permits were in hand, an expansion of the project and post-Sept. 11, 2001, security changes.

Originally slated to be completed and operating by last summer, completion is now expected in May 2004.

State Sen. John Cowdery, R-Anchorage, said he was concerned about the costs but that the work needs to be completed.

The good thing, we are not liable in any form for the cost of this,'' he said.

Sen. Georgianna Lincoln, D-Rampart, said she remains concerned, despite assurances that the project will not affect the state bond rating.

I am not fully convinced Alaska will go untouched by these huge overruns,'' she said.

Sens. Lyman Hoffman, R-Bethel, and Donald Olson, R-Nome, voted against the bill. The bill can be reconsidered.

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