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Tampa airport to start building new terminal complex early

Tampa International Airport plans to jump-start work on a new $950 million terminal complex to help bolster the ailing construction business.

Officials on Thursday outlined plans to speed up two projects, one of which they expect will receive a portion of the $787 billion federal stimulus package.

The Federal Aviation Administration has indicated Tampa International could get as much as $12 million in airport improvement funds to help build a $52 million elevated taxiway, said airport executive director Louis Miller. The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority board could pick a winning bid in June, and construction could be under way by fall.

Miller also wants to accelerate a $26 million project for drainage improvements and other infrastructure for the new terminal site, north of the current terminal. "We will be spending money really quickly to put people back to work in the Tampa Bay area," he told the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority board Thursday.

Until last year, planners thought growing passenger traffic would become too much for the current 38-year-old terminal to handle by 2015. But passenger numbers nationwide began dropping last summer as airlines cut flights and routes.

The slide is expected to continue, with 8.1 percent fewer travelers expected to fly out of the airport for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. Miller's best guess is the terminal building's first phase won't be needed until some time between 2018 and 2020.

Steve Huettel can be reached at huettel@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3384.

FAST FACTS

Airport budget cut

With fewer people flying — and spending money on parking, concessions and the like — Tampa International is cutting its budget. Revenues for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 are projected to be down nearly $12.5 million, or 6.6 percent, from the approved budget. No job cuts are planned, but a hiring freeze remains in effect. The airport expects to post a surplus of $25.4 million, about $10 million less than the previous year.

Tampa airport to start building new terminal complex early 03/05/09 [Last modified: Thursday, March 5, 2009 11:57pm]
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