Business and leisure travelers parking in the surface lot at Charleston International Airport soon will have to maneuver around a huge construction project for much of the next two years.
A Mississippi contractor won the low bid recently to build a new 3,005-space parking deck at a cost of $87 million.
Roy Anderson Corp. of Gulfport will construct the five-tier deck behind the existing three-level garage, airport CEO Paul Campbell said. Work will include a covered walkway leading to the existing 1,268-space parking deck.
In December, the board authorized Campbell and the staff attorney to negotiate with the low bidder, who was not named at the time, to trim down the cost before signing a contract.
The airport received five qualified bids. Four contractors came to the table, but one backed out. The final three bids ranged from $90 million to $110 million, and Anderson's bid was $8 million less than the next highest offer, Campbell said.
The bidders had to have experience with parking decks and working with airports to qualify for the work.
"We still have some negotiations to do and no contract has been signed, but they were the low bidder," Campbell said last week.
The contractor's division manager reiterated that no contract is in hand yet, but the company is eager to get started.
"We are very excited to have the opportunity to work with Charleston County Aviation Authority on this very important project," said Chris Monsour of Roy Anderson Corp.
The low bidder is no stranger to the Charleston area. It's currently working on visitors' quarters at Charleston Air Force Base and was involved in construction of the Hilton Garden Inn near the Medical University of South Carolina.
Roy Anderson also has been involved in several airport projects, including terminals, parking decks and runways across the country, according to Monsour. Some of the work included airports in Los Angeles, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Birmingham and Newark.
The contractor, a subsidiary of Los Angeles-based Tutor Perini Corp., is expected to begin setting up in late January. Part of the surface lot affected by the upcoming construction will be blocked off in early February, Campbell said.
Parking for about half of the surface lot behind the existing deck will be moved to the remote lots, where free shuttles to the terminal will be used. The surface lot currently accommodates 2,344 cars. The outlying lots can handle 1,476 vehicles.
Other space is available behind the police department building, and the airport can shuttle people in from Boeing Co.'s parking lot if necessary, Campbell said.
To prepare for the new parking deck, the airport recently completed overhauls to outlying lots where new spaces were added.
Work on the new parking facility is expected to be completed in November 2020, just before the busy holiday travel period.
A new parking deck is needed because of the airport's exceptional passenger growth in recent years.
"We are starting to run out of parking three or four times a week," Campbell said. "We are having to park people in other places. We have exceeded our growth projections and continue to exceed our growth projections."
In November, Charleston International, the state's busiest terminal, reached a milestone by surpassing 4 million passengers arriving and departing for the first time ever. That's double the number since 2010.
The region's growth with new industries, more tourists and more newcomers moving to the area is driving the airport's move to create more parking spaces.
Several times during the past year or so, the existing deck has been closed when it reached capacity. During heavy holiday travel periods, the airport has had to rely on outlying lots and shuttles as the surface lot filled up as well.
It costs $15 per day to park in the garage and $10 a day for the surface lot and remote spaces. Valet parking is $21 a day. Shuttles are free.
The airport's board raised fees for the surface lot by $2 and valet parking by $3 in 2016 to begin banking money for the new parking deck's construction.