NAD Breaks Ground on $409 Million Airport Expansion

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The first step in the $409.5 million makeover of the nation's main gateway is complete as government and Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) officials broke ground on the project at Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) last Thursday.

The first phase of the four-year project is the $198 million construction of a 247,000 square foot U.S. Departure terminal and pier, which is expected to be completed by 2011.

The second phase of the project, which begins in October 2012, includes transforming the existing U.S. Departure terminal into an international terminal.

Phase three of the project includes the construction of a new international and domestic arrivals terminal.

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, who gave remarks at the ground breaking ceremony, said the redevelopment is the biggest public works project in Bahamian history.

He also noted that it has been a long time coming.

"The redevelopment of this airport has been the goal and objective of successive governments of The Bahamas since at least the 1980s and in the pursuit of that, a new U.S. departure terminal was built," Mr. Ingraham said.

"Great pains have been taken to ensure that industry development and new airport facilities would be appropriate to our culture and to our climate and the construction of operation facilities would be done in an environmentally efficient and sustainable manner."

The prime minister said $10.8 million had already been spent on the redevelopment of LPIA.

He said $14.8 million has also been spent on new construction company contracts for phase one.

Canadian-based Ledor Construction won the general contract for phase one. Bahamian workers are expected to make up 73 percent of its workforce.

Mr. Ingraham added that the project is expected to provide nearly 400 jobs for Bahamians.

"The works at Lynden Pindling International Airport will be publicly tendered. Contracts are to be awarded to properly qualified and experienced contractors and contracts will be awarded on the basis of internationally well-established best practices," he said.

"We expect that the contract will be awarded shortly for the airside and land side civil project provided for site clearing, reconditioning for all new pavement areas, installation of drainage ditches, covets and trenches, places of asphalt pavement, places of signage, airfield lighting and additional lighting and hard and soft landscape."

The contract also makes provisions for the installation of water sanitary, power and communication services in the new terminal, Mr. Ingraham added.

Prime Minister Ingraham said the airport is expected to deliver world-class customer service and would meet all international and safety standards.

He added that he expects LPIA will be a commercially viable institution that will not require support from the public treasury.

"I am satisfied that when the new U.S. terminal opens we will have one of the best and [most] modern airport facilities in this part of the world," he said. "Finally after being low-ranked for far too long among the least efficient and least customer friendly airports, LPIA will become a source of national pride."

The prime minister said the revitalization of LPIA, coupled with the dredging of the Nassau Harbour, will better-position Bahamians for the inevitable economic upturn.

"The redevelopment of the Lynden Pindling International Airport together with works being undertaken in the Nassau Harbour, to ensure its capacity to receive genesis class cruise ships, is a manifestation of my government's commitment to investing in tourism and to modernize and expand our national infrastructure," he said.

Chairman of NAD Frank Watson said a lot of work went into planning LPIA.

"Over the past three years, a lot of time and effort has gone into the design of the terminals," he said.

"We went through this process to ensure that the finished product meets the needs of both Bahamians and our visitors for years to come. We have kept the designs to some of the most stringent standards and implemented innovative systems to make the airport run efficiently."

Mr. Watson boasted that the new U.S. Departure terminal will have one the most efficient bag handling systems in the world.

"This $10 million baggage system has the ability to process up to 2,000 bags per hour and screen for security threats," he said. "Access points will be fully secured and monitored with Closed Circuit Television (CCTV). The new facility will also incorporate biometric technology."

LPIA will also feature green spaces, artwork spaces, covered drop-off and pick-up spaces, 10 new retail stores, food courts, restaurants, sit down areas and open and outdoor spaces.

Mr. Watson said in designing the terminals, officials also incorporated features specific to The Bahamas' geographical location.

"The reality is that we live in a hurricane zone and the new terminal has been wind tested and will be able to withstand winds with up to 150 mph," he said. "The new facility will not only be impressive but functional. The physical beauty and modern features of the new terminal, which incorporates a sense of place, will be appealing to all."

This is exactly what Minister of Tourism and Aviation Senator Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace is hoping.

He said the redevelopment of LPIA is of vital importance because it will improve the overall tourism product of The Bahamas.

"The most important part of this airport has little to do with the people who are terminating here, but the people who are transiting from this facility and going on into the Family Islands and elsewhere. We are already talking about the opportunities we have in this region to attract many people who are just transiting here as you find in many of the international airports elsewhere," he said.

The prime minister said work is also expected to begin on a new two-lane highway from LPIA to the College of The Bahamas on Thompson Boulevard.

Construction is also expected to begin on a new boardwalk extending from the Prince George Wharf and from Bay Street to Arawak Cay.

Source: The Bahama Journal