The Lafayette Airport Commission this week tapped the brakes on the process of building a $90 million passenger terminal, deciding to slow down and examine closely how to carry out what will be a yearslong, complex project.
Commission members on Wednesday were scheduled to decide whether to deploy a construction method that differs from the traditional way government projects are built. Called construction management, CMAR brings the construction company in on the project during the design phase so pitfalls can be avoided in later phases. CMAR’s promoters also tout its faster completion time — in Lafayette’s case, consultant Walt Adams has said it could knock a year off the project’s duration.
The commissioners at the meeting — Chairman Matt Cruse was absent — also were to discuss and possibly approve a new contract for Adams, who has championed the CMAR method since he started advising the commission in December. Adams also was absent from the meeting.
But instead of approving the measures, Vice Chairman Paul Guilbeau and the other commissioners chose to discuss and decide both issues at a later date: The project method will be vetted by the commission’s Terminal Committee, and Adams’ contract will be run through the Legal Committee. There is no date set for the committee meetings.
“We need to make sure these things get vetted through the proper channels,” airport Executive Director Steve Picou said Thursday.
Picou said the lack of action did not bring the project to a standstill. The commission, he said, will solicit proposals from design firms in the near future then decide on a construction method later.
“We don’t have to make that decision right now,” he said. “We can work with design (then decide) do we go through a CMAR or the traditional method.”
In January, the commission’s seven members unanimously chose Picou to be the executive director of Lafayette Regional Airport. Picou’s selection came about a month after a December election where Lafayette Parish residents voted to tax themselves 1 cent for each dollar they spent on taxable goods within the parish. The tax started April 1 and will end Nov. 30, with estimated proceeds of $35 million to be dedicated to building a new terminal, expanding the parking area and other improvements. The remainder of the total cost will be financed with a blend of state and federal airport grants and borrowed money.
Cruse, the commission chairman, said Thursday that he has backed the CMAR method because of the shorter construction period — four years instead of five, according to one estimate.
“We were probably hoping that we could jump into this a little bit quicker and get it moving,” Cruse said.
“But once we did and started doing the research … it was a little more complex than we thought at the beginning.”
The contract for Adams’ company, EnGarde, also will be reviewed. Though EnGarde was working through a commission-approved agreement early on, Adams submitted an amended contract April 1 that has not been approved, Picou said.
Picou said Adams probably would continue to be a consultant for the airport.