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Airport basin project ahead of schedule

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By Jennifer Garcia

It's been a few months since the Airport Basin Site Project was started and it seems that things are starting to take shape. Capital Projects Director Anne Laurent and Project Manager David Apple presented council with a quarterly update during the county council meeting on Monday night at the community building.

According to county documents, on Sept. 30, 2008, Council approved the second amendment Guaranteed Maximum Price #2 to the Hansel Phelps Services Agreement. This amendment in the amount of $50,804,480 plus applicable Gross Receipts Tax authorized the majority of the construction work for the project except for a large portion of asphalt work, freestanding covered storage structures and Building F (vehicle wash). GMP #2 was based in part on the Initial Guaranteed Maximum Price of $56,433,607; which included Gross Receipts Tax at the current rate, escalation and contingency.

Amendment No. 3 for GMP #3 will be presented to Council on Dec. 16, 2008 and will include the remainder of the project work. Staff, WH Pacific and Hansel Phelps is working diligently to keep the project within the approved budget and schedule.

Laurent said that there is currently $124,000 in the budget designated for winter conditions, which includes snow removal. "Our main goal is to keep the project at or under what Council approved for the budget," she said. Laurent also said that the GMP #3 will be somewhere in the range of $52 million. In addition, the permits for structural steel are pending and according to Laurent, they should be coming in within 30 days. "Once we get the permits, the steel should arrive shortly," she said. She pointed out that they have held off on purchasing large ticket items to make sure they weren't over designed. "We're right on target. Safety continues to be our first priority and we continue to use good safety practices," she continued. Currently, there are a combined 85 staff members on site at the Airport Basin. Laurent said that 85 percent of the workforce is comprised of New Mexico residents.

Councilor Michael Wheeler asked Laurent whether the cost to date represents the build cost of the project. "Does that represent the work that has actually been done already or does that lag work thats actually been completed?" Laurent told Wheeler that the work is probably lagging by two weeks. "How many dollars that represent?" Wheeler queried. "To bring our construction dollars up to date, the October expenditure was about $3 million," Laurent said.

Council Vice Chair Robert Gibson was concerned about how the price of oil has affected the price of asphalt and how the county would be affected by those costs. "We awarded a contract at a time when the price of oil was at its peak, from which it's fallen over 50 percent now," Gibson said. "The general economic standing in the country and world may well reduce prices for other construction, materials. Were there any provisions that passed through some of those costs to the county?" Gary Johnson from Hansel Phelps answered Gibson's question by saying, "We've written in an escalation clause, plus or minus. Any gains would go back into the contingency. We benefit if it goes down. We've also locked in the price of steel."

Councilor Ken Milder asked Laurent what was making the project run so smoothly. "The project is ahead of schedule and we're on budget? This is the first CMAR project and even at the early stages it's hard to make a prediction. Things appear to be going quite well. Do you think that it is due to the fact that we're using a CMAR or is it good weather and a good team with smart people," he asked.

Laurent said that she believes that teamwork and good communication will get the work done well.