A nearly $2-million expansion of the Hilton Head Island Airport terminal has been delayed until at least February 2014 because of a lack of qualified bids, Beaufort County officials said Thursday.
Of the bids the county received, only one met federal requirements for the work -- and it was 25 percent higher than the estimated cost of the project, county engineering director Rob McFee told the Airports Board. The bids, he said, were "not the result of a robust bidding scenario."
The county will reopen the process next month, he said.
"There's no guarantee" the county will receive better offers in September, McFee said. The contractors who submitted the earlier bids will be told why their offers weren't chosen and how they could be improved, he said.
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McFee said the county would also consider whether its estimate for the work is too low.
Construction was scheduled to begin this fall. The 4,250-square-foot project will add space for seating, security checks and restrooms near the gate area and is designed to increase passenger comfort and comply with Transportation Security Administration requirements, county staff attorney Josh Gruber said.
The TSA mandated tighter security at airports following the 9/11 attacks in 2001. At the Hilton Head airport, the secure area where passengers waited to board after being screened was set off from the main part of ther terminal, where bathrooms and a vending area were located. Once inside the secure area, passengers who wanted to use a restroom or eat had to exit, then come back through the security checkpoint.
The Federal Aviation Administration will pay 90 percent of the cost of the airport project while the state and county will each pay 5 percent. County officials have estimated the project will cost $1.9 million.
Terminal improvements were included in the airport's 20-year master plan, which County Council adopted in October 2010.
Gruber said he was uncertain if the rebidding process would delay other planned airport improvements, including lengthening the runway, planned in phases over several years.
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