On a stage on the top level of the new John Wayne Airport southwest parking structure, dignitaries stood around a yellow machine Saturday and watched as the button marked “Take Ticket” was pushed.
But the group, which had gathered for the dedication of the first completed building of the ambitious airport expansion program, waited in vain.
Robert Matranga of Bomel Construction Co., the builder, pressed the button a few more times, each time a little more frantically. Still nothing.
“Oh, well,” John Wayne Airport Manager George A. Rebella joked, “another typical airport power failure.”
With that reference to a power failure affecting a runway last month, and to a series of construction snafus that have bogged down the airport’s $310-million expansion, airport and county officials officially dedicated the 1,476-space parking structure designed to take John Wayne Airport into the future.
County Supervisor Thomas F. Riley, whose district includes the airport, called the structure “another milestone in John Wayne Airport’s history.”
“This is another of our efforts to bring Orange County’s air transport service into the 20th Century,” Riley said.
The four-level structure was scheduled to open for short-term parking at 8 p.m. Saturday, and be available for parking daily from 6 a.m. to midnight. Shuttle service will take people to the terminals every 10 to 15 minutes.
A new 337,000-foot terminal has been scheduled to open by April, 1990. But the entire project, which will also add a total of 8,400 new parking spaces, has been plagued by problems.
After months of controversy about alleged design errors and cost overruns, the Orange County Grand Jury began an investigation in December and concluded a month later that the new passenger terminal was 4 months behind schedule and probably would not open on time.
On Saturday, however, officials were optimistic.
“I’m glad we were able to open (the garage) on time, like we expect to open the terminal building on time,” said Richard Begley, project director for Irvine-based HPV Inc., the firm managing the expansion program. “Even though it’s running into a few little glitches here and there, it’s running on time.
“This is the first evidence to the public that this project is getting somewhere, and it is,” Begley said.
The event featured an exhibit of antique cars, model planes and bicycles; a fashion show featuring women’s wear from the last 100 years, and music from the International Youth Choir.