It rarely hurts to hit the pause button to get things right. The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority did just that by deciding to redo the bidding process for the first phase of its $2.5 billion master plan for Tampa International Airport. The move will set back the project a few months beyond its 2017 scheduled completion date. But it will ensure transparency and fairness when it comes to spending public money.
Problems arose when TIA began the bidding process for a $73 million project to build a consolidated rental car facility with an automated people mover connected to the airport's main terminal. The original bid language had problems, including vague wording about requirements to include minority contractors. Some bidders raised questions about the confusion. Others did not. Not only were minority contractors at risk of being shut out of the TIA construction, but the flawed bidding process could have exposed the aviation authority to lengthy and costly legal challenges from losing bidders.
Better to catch the mistake now than later. And there's reason to hope the common sense bidding mulligan will be a lesson learned, informing the next two phases of the master plan that will expand the main terminal, set for completion by 2028.