Transit center plans scaled back

A month after construction bids for a new transit center at Bob Hope Airport came in tens of millions of dollars over budget, officials this week unveiled more austere plans that lop 130,000 square feet off the original design.

One floor of what was to be a four-story center housing rental car fleets and bus and taxi terminals was dropped from the design, airport Executive Director Dan Feger said Monday.

The proposed bus terminal will also be smaller, and the steel trussed roof is no more. Officials also opted to do away with a waterproof membrane in the floors. Other measures were taken to streamline the design, Feger told Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority commissioners.

The ground-level parking lost in the smaller transit center design will also force a separate new multi-level parking garage to more than double in size, from a 375- to at least an 850-car-capacity structure.

Airport Authority Chairman Frank Quintero of Glendale said some of the original elements were over the top anyway.

“I think we’re going to end up with a better project,” he said.

The move comes after contractors submitted bids that were 40% to 60% higher than the $112-million construction price tag airport officials had expected for the original, grander design.

Contractors said the cost of steel, elaborate design elements, late changes sought by airport designers and concern about the 12-month construction timeline caused them to either opt out of the bidding process or turn in estimates $47 million to $75 million over budget.

Airport officials have budgeted $130 million for the transit center planned for near Hollywood Way and Empire Avenue, including design, insurance and other non-construction costs.

Burbank airport commissioner Bill Wiggins likened the more toned-down proposal to buying a new car without all the extras.

“Sometimes, it turns out to be just too expensive,” he said.

Feger acknowledged he had pushed architects to finish the plans and get the project out to bid this summer in order to take advantage of a hungry construction market and low interest rates — conditions that appear likely to remain for a while longer.

“It turned out that was a bad decision,” Feger said.

The airport plans to issue between $90 million and $100 million in bonds to fund construction.

He said he hopes to have a new design by mid-July, with a new round of construction bids slated to be revealed in November. The bonds would then be issued in January, about seven months behind the original timeline, Feger said.


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