Charleston airport committee to take up contract that led to controversy

By Lauren Ratcliffe
Published March 27, 2013

A committee overseeing the terminal redevelopment project at Charleston International Airport is convening today to discuss two bids for a contract for construction administration and inspection services.

The contract is in addition to existing contracts with firms hired to be the architect, construction manager at-risk and project manager. The work up for bid includes day-to-day administration of the construction process and inspection of components as they are completed.

Discussion over the contract raised concerns earlier this month when the committee learned individual board members might have tried to influence the inclusion of a local firm as a subcontractor in one of the bids.

Andy Savage, chairman of the Charleston County Aviation Authority, launched an independent investigation into which board members contacted Michael Baker Corp. in regards to its bid.

Representatives for Baker said they were approached by board members and told to consider the inclusion of a specific local firm, but did not feel pressured.

Vying for the contract are Baker, project manager for the terminal redevelopment, and Fentress Architects, the firm hired to design the project. Baker’s bid totaled $4.25 million for special inspection and materials testing costs. Fentress’ $9.14 million bid was for special inspection and materials testing and construction administration.

“Our $4.2 million proposal was intended to dovetail with the basic construction administration services that only the architect can provide,” Ken Burger, a Baker representative, said last week.

Earlier this month, the committee voted 3-2 to award the contract to Fentress, but the full authority could not make a decision last week and sent the matter back to committee for more debate.

Also on today’s agenda is a request from Baker to allow one of their representatives to serve on the Austin-Hitt team hired to build the terminal. Palmetto Civil Group LLC is also asking to be removed from the Austin-Hitt team.

Previous coverage

Charleston County Aviation Authority chairman to investigate member activities

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