A downturn in traffic has delayed Tampa International Airport's $2 billion North Terminal project from 2015 to 2025, but it didn't slow construction of a nearly $17 million facility for cargo and ground support equipment (GSE).

The new dual-use facility not only clears the way for construction of the new North Terminal, it also replaces a 27-year-old building originally designed exclusively for cargo.

"Cargo is obviously the first thing that had to get moved out of the way because it sat right in the middle of where Phase I would go," explains John Allen, director of airport construction and project director for the North Terminal Program.

The new two-building complex also encompasses GSE operations. Prior to the facility's April 1 debut, GSE and cargo expansion had been "haphazard," and fuel manager ASIG was working out of multiple buildings, explains Ted Leslie, director of Properties and Contract Administration. The new facility, Leslie adds, facilitates the consolidation of suppliers and provides purpose-built spaces that will allow for easy expansion as demand grows.

The new facility consists of 112,200 square feet of mixed-use cargo operations for 14 tenants, with firms supporting belly cargo shipping, airline provisioning and GSE maintenance (see complete list in Facts & Figures, 18). The new cargo building measures more than 75,600 square feet; the new GSE building occupies more than 36,600 square feet. Both sit on a 46-acre parcel owned by Hillsborough County Aviation Authority on the east side of the airport.

As prime design consultant, RW Armstrong and Associates not only managed the project's contractors and subconsultants, its engineers and designers coordinated interior and exterior layouts with tenants anticipated to occupy the facilities.

Facts & Figures

Project: Cargo & GSE Facilities

Location: Tampa (FL) International Airport

Cargo Building Size: 75,600 sq. ft.

GSE Building Size: 36,600 sq. ft.

Project Budget: $20 million

Construction Budget: $16.9 million

Payment Method: Bond Funds

Project Timeline: January 2009 - March 2010

Prime Construction Contractor: Hardin Construction Company

Prime Design Contractor: RW Armstrong

Architect: The Osborn Architects and Engineers

MEP Engineer: VoltAir Consulting Engineers

Pond Design: SWRF

Water/Sewer Design: Cardno TBE

Landscape Design: LA Design

Survey: Echezabal & Associates

Geotechnical: ASC Geosciences

Estimator: Hunt Construction Group

Tenants: Aircraft Services International Group, Air General, AJ Arango, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Airlines, EuroVision, Evergreen Aviation Ground Logistics Enterprises, Fillet Green, J Cortina, Sack & Menendez, Southwest Airlines, US Airways, U.S. Customs & Border Protection

Early in 2008, the design team sent questionnaires to existing tenants asking about their security and storage needs. The answers tenants provided helped guide parameters for the new facility. Certain storage items, for instance, affected building height, fire protection needs and building code requirements.

The new building, notes RW Armstrong project engineer Jason Bartle, provides improvements on all fronts, including enhanced energy efficiency, ventilation and air conditioning systems, restroom facilities, sign standardization and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Specific energy-savers include lights that shut off automatically when spaces are not in use and high-output fixtures that reduce the number of lights needed. Colors with a high solar reflectance index were selected for roof and wall panels to reduce heat absorption and allow for downsized HVAC equipment. Increasing the R-value of the facility's insulation further supported the HVAC system change.

Improved ramp lighting, upgraded closed-circuit television, a new vehicle wash rack and landscaping, a GSE vehicle exhaust system and welding areas with exhaust systems are other notable upgrades in the new buildings, adds Leslie.

In addition, the U.S. Customs & Border Protection cargo area now meets updated standards with a new canine room and a separate fish and wildlife suite. It also received new systems furniture.

Longer Commute, But Not for Long

Despite numerous advantages of the new facilities, a negative slant remains regarding its location. On the plus side, the combined cargo/GSE facility is adjacent to the airport's new $17.5 million cargo road, a four-lane divided road that provides improved business visibility, easier access and improved parking.

On the negative side, the new facility is almost four-times farther from the airfield than the previous facility - 8,300 feet vs. 2,400 feet. To alleviate problems associated with the longer commute, the airport is constructing an $8 million tunnel that will cut 1.2 miles off the round-trip journey.

Allen describes the tunnel as a "sophisticated box culvert" that connects the new cargo facility to the airfield. "Always part of the master plan, we moved it up to make life a little easier for the cargo operators," he notes.

North Terminal Development

Building the new cargo road and relocating cargo operations to a new facility were crucial precursors to the future North Terminal project. At the same time it constructed the new cargo road, the airport proceeded with development of the forthcoming North Terminal by hiring design firm Williams Nicholas Bodouva + Associates and retaining RS&H for the civil engineering portion of the project.

"We have been proceeding with both of those firms on conceptual and schematic design of the North Terminal," Allen reports. "These plans are intended to be turned into packages which we will put on the street to start constructing the facilities once passenger traffic triggers are reached which currently look to be 10 or more years out. This document will be the roadmap to take the master plan to real conceptual and schematic design."