Austin Commercial and Skanska Building USA Expand Tampa International Airport
Work is progressing on many fronts during the $1 billion renovation and expansion of Tampa International Airport in Florida.
“This is, at its core, a decongestion project,” says Danny Valentine, Spokesperson for the Tampa airport. “We’re growing and now at 19 million passengers.”
The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority approved a master plan for the airport in 2013 and embarked on the expansion, which aims to reduce congestion. This work is taking place now. Future plans include adding an additional airside and are currently under evaluation.
“Our challenge has been pulling off the largest project in the history of the airport while continuing to serve passengers at a very high level,” Valentine says. “It has required intricate phasing.”
Under a design-build contract, Austin Commercial of Dallas is building a 2.6-million-square-foot consolidated rental center and the 1.4-mile automated people mover guideway and stations. These two projects, along with the automated people mover system by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America (MHIA) of Houston, represent about 70 percent of the budget, and construction began in November 2014 and early 2015, respectively.
“We had one big concrete project and then another totally different project for the infrastructure for the automated people mover,” says Tom Skinner, Project Director for Austin Commercial. He adds that all of the different contractors are collaborating and working well together. “It’s one of the tightest schedules we have had.”
As construction of the rental car facility and SkyConnect people mover progressed, Skanska Building USA of Tampa is working on the inside on a $142 million terminal renovation, adding space for 69 shops and restaurants, and constructing a 55,000-square-foot transfer-level, with additions to the east and west plaza decks. Work also includes removing the rental shuttle car lobbies. The project adds thousands of new charging outlets and USB ports for people to plug in their phones and other electronic devices. The work is scheduled to be complete in early 2018.
Most of the heavy and loud work has taken place overnight, when few passengers are in the area.
“Getting to this point has been a Herculean effort,” Valentine says.
The reconstruction of Taxiway J and modifications to the road network at the airport have been completed. The taxiway was built in 1969 and in need of widening over the road and people mover.
The airport set a goal of $122 million in minority- and woman-owned business participation. With about a year left in the project, the airport is committed to spend about $157.6 million. More than $91 million has been paid to date.
The Rental Car Facility
The rental car facility is four levels, three are for the car agencies. The top floor will house additional parking storage and customer service facilities, where keys are picked up and agreements signed. Austin Commercial used building information modeling (BIM) for the project. In the work site office, the company set up a BIM room with projectors that display the 3-D model on the walls.
“Everyone puts their work in the model and makes sure there are no conflicts,” Skinner says. “It’s very helpful. Foremen can visualize their work and enhance their planning abilities.”
The team buried eight 25,000-gallon fuel tanks at the rental car center, which includes a quick turnaround area for washing and fueling the cars.
The rental car center sits on columns supported by more than 350 concrete spread footings supported by more than 600 stone vibro-pier columns. A vibro-replacement rig was used to vibrate and compact large gravel into the ground, forming stone columns. About 15 to 20 columns were placed per shift. The columns reach down 50 feet.
Skinner explains that the stone columns were needed because of the soil conditions and close proximity to Tampa Bay. The process began with a starter hole. Then a hammer shoved gravel into the hole and vibrated it into the ground, until it could not be pushed any farther.
Baker Concrete of Orlando poured more than 110,000 cubic yards of concrete for the structure in 11 months, completing it in November 2016. Most pours took place in the early hours of the morning, 1 or 2 a.m., not to conflict with other concrete needs in the area. They poured 600 cubic yards to 700 cubic yards per day.
“We had the right contractor and right superintendent pushing the work,” Skinner says. “Once we got the cycle going, we kept them flowing and did not stop for anything.”
The rental care facility officially topped out in January 2017, when the Austin Commercial team placed the final beam connecting the people mover with the rental facility.
The exterior of the customer service building is clad in masonry blocks. The rental car center is on schedule for completion later this year.
The People Mover
The people mover connects the terminal with the rental care facility and the economy parking garage. The structural steel for the economy parking station topped out in December 2016.
The project includes construction of a concrete maintenance hanger, to store train cars when they are out of service. The cars are being built in Japan by MHIA.
Austin Commercial placed the final steel beam for the people-mover guideway in December 2016. The guideway is comprised of 75 steel girders and 500 concrete beams, sitting atop 125 concrete columns and bent supports. Over 650 poured-in-place drilled shafts, installed to a depth of 50 feet, support the columns. Each foundation had at least four shafts. In some places, the track is elevated more than 40 feet in the air.
The largest beam weighed 109,000 pounds, was 10 feet tall and 120 feet long. The steel beams were fabricated in Arkansas. The team used two 600-ton hydro cranes to complete the dual lifts. Significant planning was required for the placement and stability of the cranes and the rigging arranged so the beam could be set down correctly without damaging the beam.
“Sometimes one beam would take four to five days in the prep and planning to get to the point we could make the lift, which took one evening,” Skinner said.
The exceptionally large beams were needed to connect the people mover to the terminal, due to long, unsupported spans, necessitated by limited space for new foundations that were fit to limited open areas at the central terminal area.
The work took place overnight, as it required closing the roads serving the terminal, each night for several months. The beams came in and were lifted immediately off the truck and into place atop the concrete bents.
“It was an intricate ballet that they had to pull off, keeping everyone safe and doing it efficiently,” Valentine says.
Placing the concrete atop the beams had tolerances of one-eighth of an inch. In some places, the crews had to add concrete and in other places shave it down. Austin Commercial’s work on the people mover is expected to finish in October 2017.
“I’m proud of the dedication and hard work by our staff, design staff, and the owner’s planning and development staff,” Skinner concludes. “It’s been a really good relationship, with teamwork.”