Going Local: Airport Reaches Out to Regional Firms for TMP

Awarding 14 percent of TMP contracts to disadvantaged businesses is ‘floor, not ceiling’

By Alyson Walls

Published May 6, 2019

Read Time: 3 mins


Don Williams, owner of Weatherspoon & Williams, LLC, a steel fabrication and distribution company, has a 27-year-old sign hanging in his office.

“It’s the original job site sign that we did for the building of the Midfield Terminal at Pittsburgh International Airport,” he said.

Williams, whose minority-owned and certified company erected the familiar dark gray signs for the roadway and parking lots, spoke with pride when pointing out his work during Industry Day #4 and Small Business Fair last week at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Williams was one of about 170 people who attended the networking event designed to connect airport staff with local businesses, disadvantaged business enterprises and others interested in working with  the airport.

This year, contractors and construction and building trades officials got their first look at upcoming bid packages for the Terminal Modernization Program. In addition to a new connected terminal to be built between Concourses C and D, the $1.1 billion TMP also includes construction of a new ground transportation center and parking garage, new airport roadways and renovation of existing concourses.

Early construction on the new terminal is expected to begin this fall with three bid packages to prepare the construction site.

“This project provides tremendous opportunities for local contractors,” Williams said. “Pittsburgh is booming right now with construction of new hospitals, the airport project, the cracker plant and others, and we need to make sure we have inclusion for everyone.”

To ensure that the new terminal is being built by Pittsburgh and for Pittsburgh, officials have set a goal of 14 percent of the contracts going to disadvantaged business enterprises, which include minority- and women-owned businesses.

That’s “the floor, not the ceiling,” said Jenee Oliver, the airport’s manager of Business and Diversity Outreach.

Williams commended the airport for engaging disadvantaged businesses through events such as the business fair.

“At the end of the day, this project will benefit from having the added value of our participation,” he said. “We look forward to being involved because the airport has been a great partner over the years.”

(Photo by Beth Hollerich)

There was a similar buzz from other attendees.

“I think any firm in Pittsburgh that is not trying to be involved is missing out because it’s an exciting project for our city, especially with new flights and other improvements that have been happening,” said Jennifer Portaro, of ECS Mid-Atlantic, an environmental and geotechnical engineering firm. “This is a feature project for our city, and I’m hoping to make some key relationships and learn how we can be of service.”

Dan Kelly, representative for Multivista, a visual project documentation company, also worked on the Midfield Terminal as a former union carpenter in 1991. Like Williams, he said he understands the necessity of modernizing because of changes in the airport’s passenger traffic.

“This is not just an airport for connecting traffic anymore; there are far more people coming here and leaving from here, and having the terminal closer to the airside will be beneficial,” Kelly said.

Williams added, “The airport has changed, and so we have to change the size and shape to suit the new use of it. We have to modernize and adjust.”

Tammi Halapin of Collective Efforts, a woman-owned and certified civil and environmental engineering firm that is a sub-contractor to the Landside Design and Construction Management teams, agreed that the TMP is key to region’s ongoing advancement.

“We have to right-size the airport and stay up with the times … Right now, you see a lot of emptiness in the terminal, and it has a rundown feeling. That’s not a good impression,” she said. “This is our gateway, and it will be spectacular. It makes me excited to be on this team.”

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