SAN ANTONIO – The main contract for building a new terminal at the San Antonio International Airport has been cleared for takeoff.
The San Antonio City Council voted 10-1 Tuesday to allow city staff to finalize a $1 billion contract with one of the largest aviation construction contractors in the country, Hensel Phelps Construction Company.
Hensel Phelps’ headquarters are in Greeley, CO. It has offices in other Texas cities, but not San Antonio.
It will oversee the continued planning and eventual construction of the airport’s new 17-gate terminal and related upgrades, such as a ground transportation center and the expansion of elevated roadways.
Construction isn’t expected to begin until late 2024, but the Colorado-based builder’s duties include working with the project’s master architect through the design process to maintain costs and schedules.
The city expects the new terminal to be finished in 2028.
Gary Perrin, the operations manager for Hensel Phelps’ South Central region, said the site of the new terminal means the work is separate from the existing Terminals A and B. So there shouldn’t be much disruption for travelers.
“There’s not going to be a whole lot of impact to the passengers going through the facility, whether it’s on the roadway or getting through any kind of security checkpoint or out to their gates. It’s largely going to be separated,” Perrin told reporters after the vote. “And then at the end of the project, we’ll do a cutover to basically open up the new facility and open up the gates so that passengers can start to utilize the new facility.”
District 8 councilman Manny Pelaez was the only council member to vote against hiring Hensel Phelps; however, he said his vote was not meant to be a negative statement about either the company or the committee that selected them.
Pelaez, who is considering a mayoral run in 2025, said he wished the city had done more to encourage bidders to partner with local firms.
City staff said the federal funding meant the city could not use any local preference points in scoring the project.
Hensel Phelps will get a little under 13% of the contract value, while the other 87% is for subcontracted work that is still up for grabs.
“The remaining is some of the 20 to 25 projects that will be bid out competitively, enabling opportunities for local participation,” San Antonio Director of Airports Jesus Saenz Jr. told council members.
Under the “construction manager at-risk” method the city is using for the project, Hensel Phelps is responsible for hiring out the subcontracted jobs. Perrin said the company wants to pursue work with local firms.
“When we put together our team, we have some local smaller firms, consultants, within our team, but we left opportunities within our team for additional team members that are local that we were going to facilitate that conversation, post-award,” he said.
Hensel Phelps agreed last year to pay $2.8 million to settle allegations of subcontracting fraud over a 2011 project in Washington, D.C.
Still, Saenz said the city had been aware of the case, and “all of that was vetted out in the procurement process.”