With skin in the game through a local tax, Lafayette airport is in good position for federal funds for terminal expansion _lowres

Rendering provided by Sides & Associates -- Rendering of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport

Lafayette Regional Airport commissioners on Tuesday inched a little closer to constructing a modern passenger terminal and expanded parking that will cost upwards of $90 million.

The Board of Commissioner’s Terminal Committee agreed to send the full board a recommendation giving airport Director Steven Picou the OK to start the process of choosing a firm that will design the terminal.

The full board will take up the recommendation at its June 10 meeting and decide whether to give Picou authorization to draft a document called a request for quote, or RFQ.

The RFQ, which is an invitation to qualified architectural and engineering firms to bid on the work, will be discussed and voted on at the commission’s July or August meeting. If it’s approved then, there could be a design firm chosen before 2015 ends.

Even if a firm is chosen by 2015’s end, it’ll still be 2017 at the earliest before actual construction begins.

Not discussed at Tuesday’s brief session — it lasted less than 10 minutes — was debate on which construction method would be used to build the terminal. In past meetings, consultant Walt Adams has pushed using a “construction management at risk” method that pulls the building into the project during the design phase.

The method was to be discussed at the board’s meeting in May. But before one word was offered in debate at the May 13 meeting, Commissioner Paul Guilbeau took it off the agenda and pushed it to the Terminal Committee that met Tuesday.

Guilbeau said outside the meeting Tuesday that the winning design firm will take the lead in building the terminal.

The commission’s Legal Committee also met Tuesday and approved a small change to contract for Engarde Consulting, which is Adams’ company. Like the Terminal Committee meeting that preceded it, the Legal Committee meeting was brief.

To help pay for the terminal, Lafayette Parish residents in December voted to add a 1-cent levy to taxable goods and services for a fixed period of time. The sales tax started April 1 and will expire Nov. 30. Proceeds from the eight-month tax are expected to be $35 million to $37 million.

The money will be combined with state and federal aviation grants along with debt for the project.

Planners say there will be five passenger gates, with room to add two more. Currently, there are three gates.

Plans also call for places to purchase food on both sides of the security guards and for more parking slots.