The airport contract that launched an inquiry into backroom dealings between some board members and a private contractor is one vote away from approval, paving the way for a June start to the $200 million makeover of Charleston International’s aging terminal.
The vote scheduled for Monday will not affect the probe.
Passengers will see the first visible signs of work inside the terminal at the baggage claim area where a third carousel will be added.
The work will then progress throughout the terminal over the next three years by adding six new gates, consolidating security checkpoints and numerous other changes to expand and update the 28-year-old building.
A Charleston County Aviation Authority committee voted 4-1 Wednesday to award the construction administration contract to Fentress Architects.
The committee accepted the Denver-based architect’s negotiated lower price of $7 million with $1 million set aside to handle problems that might arise once construction begins in earnest. Fentress’s original bid was $9.1 million.
The contract fell into dispute last month when Michael Baker Corp., the Columbia firm hired to manage the terminal redevelopment and expansion project, also bid on part of the work.
Baker later withdrew its bid after questions arose that some Aviation Authority board members may have tried to steer work to subcontractors in Baker’s bid. That led board chairman Andy Savage to launch an inquiry into the Baker bid. The probe is ongoing, Savage said.
The panel also unanimously recommended that the Terracon engineering firm of North Charleston receive the inspection and testing services contract for airport construction work at a price of $328,397.
In addition, the committee voted unanimously to recommend that Gulf Stream Construction Co. be included in the first stage of demolition and site work at the airport because it met pre-qualification standards.
The North Charleston firm’s inclusion as a subcontractor raised some eyebrows in March because it was involved in the 2005 legal dispute with the airport over the stability of the concrete the company was using for the parking deck. The high-profile flap was settled out of court.
Because of the latest concerns, a separate committee will look into setting new policy to address the qualifications of subcontractors.
The airport’s finance committee will take up next year’s budget following the special board meeting at 1 p.m.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.