$500,000 Added to Airport Project : Terminal: Supervisors allocate the money to pay for overtime that will accompany an accelerated work schedule.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A day after their showdown with the chief contractor at John Wayne Airport, county supervisors on Wednesday appropriated an additional $500,000 to speed up completion of the long-delayed terminal.

That money will pay for the first month of overtime expenses as Taylor Woodrow Construction California Ltd. kicks into high gear under an accelerated schedule that the supervisors have imposed. That new schedule involves longer work weeks and larger work crews, and county officials hope that it will ensure that the airport meets its scheduled opening date of Sept. 16, a date that has already been pushed back from April 1.

"I view this money as an investment," said Supervisor Thomas F. Riley, whose district includes the airport. "It's an investment in opening that airport on time."

Although some county officials say that they may have to return to the board in 30 days to ask for another $500,000 installment for additional overtime, they are hopeful that it will not come to that.

"We don't really know just yet," said Jan Mittermeir, assistant airport manager. "Our feeling right now, however, is that (the $500,000 is) probably sufficient."

Taylor Woodrow was fired Tuesday from a $25-million parking garage and road contract that is more than eight months behind schedule, the result of delays that the county blames on the company but which the company argues are not entirely its fault.

The county's airport project manager, HPV, has already begun negotiating with McCarthy Brothers Co., which is building the eastside parking structure, to have it take over Taylor Woodrow's unfinished parking and roadway work. A price has not yet been determined.

Despite its dismissal from the parking and road contract, Taylor Woodrow was kept on to finish work at the terminal on the condition that it agree to the terms of the new schedule.

Taylor Woodrow and its representatives met with county lawyers Wednesday after the board meeting and have previously indicated that the company will likely file suit to challenge its dismissal from the parking garage contract. No suits were filed Wednesday, according to county and company officials.

The company's dismissal was based partly on the county's assertion that Taylor Woodrow lacked a license needed to work on the roadway. Without that license, any Taylor Woodrow court challenge to its firing could be hindered, and two county officials suggested Wednesday that Taylor Woodrow may be in the process of hiring a licensed engineer so that it can bolster its legal case before filing suit.

Taylor Woodrow attorneys would not comment, but an official with the state contractors' board said it would normally take several weeks for a new license to be issued. That process can be speeded up if Taylor Woodrow is willing to merge with a firm that already holds a so-called Class A engineering license, the official added.

But while the legal wrangling continued behind the scenes, company officials have also said they are eager to move forward with the terminal contract, and they have agreed to the terms of the accelerated schedule.

"Notwithstanding this unfortunate circumstance, we are diligently working with the county in what we believe will be an early and successful completion of the new airport terminal building," William Ostfeld, senior vice president of the company, said in a prepared statement Tuesday.

Times staff writer Jeffrey A. Perlman contributed to this report.

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