Lafayette Regional Airport commissioners on Wednesday named two national firms to build a new passenger terminal and other projects worth an estimated $150 million to enhance air travel in Acadiana’s hub city.
Both firms were among six in the final competition for the work, which includes the centerpiece $90 million passenger terminal.
If Lafayette airport officials can hammer out a contract — a general terms agreement called a master service agreement — with each firm in the next few weeks, RS&H and Heery will form a team that will include some smaller firms. Both Heery and RS&H have completed large airport projects, according to their websites.
“This was probably the biggest decision we will make in our time on the commission,” Paul Guilbeau, chairman of the commission, said before the top two companies were announced at the special commission meeting.
The runners-up were HNTB and Gensler, which were vying for the architecture and engineering side, and PSA Constructors and Neel-Schaffer, which competed for construction management.
If airport officials and the chosen firms cannot work out a contract, the second-place finishers would be offered the work.
Kam Movassaghi, former Louisiana transportation director and a veteran of big government projects, said he is impressed with the way the commission conducted the search and narrowed the field of competitors.
“This was done in the most professional manner, really at the speed of light,” said Movassaghi, who was part of a review committee that recommended the six finalists.
Many companies responded last year to a national request for qualifications, and 12 were chosen to give presentations to airport officials. The list of 12 was winnowed to six, then to the two chosen Wednesday night.
“We’re glad to be on board,” said Todd Vincent, whose Lafayette engineering company Sellers & Associates will work on project as part of the Heery team.
Vincent said Heery officials asked Sellers & Associates to be the company’s liaison in Lafayette.
Though Heery and RS&H will work on several projects at the airport, the spotlight will be on the terminal.
Preliminary designs call for a new building with five passenger gates with room to expand to seven gates. Also planned is a bigger parking lot and upgrading the ramp around the terminal.
In 2014, the airport commissioners asked Lafayette Parish voters to approve a temporary tax to help pay for the terminal.
The voters overwhelmingly approved taxing themselves one extra cent for each dollar spent on taxable goods.
The tax, which ran from April 1 to Nov. 30 last year, put $32.6 million in the bank to help pay for an expanded terminal. The money will be combined with state and federal money along with borrowed funds to reach $90 million.
Construction on the terminal is expected to begin in 2017.
Guilbeau on Wednesday urged the winning firms to attend workshops in April where minority business owners will learn how to become certified as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, or DBE. Projects that use federal dollars are required to have a percentage of DBEs participating.