Myrtle Beach airport terminal completion delayed until March

01/22/2013 6:00 AM

01/22/2013 11:20 PM

The new terminal at Myrtle Beach International Airport will open about seven weeks later than expected, thanks in part to Hurricane Sandy.

Instead of finishing work on Friday, the new targeted completion date is March 19, M.B. Kahn Vice President Bill Cram told the Horry County Council at Tuesday’s meeting.

Hurricane Sandy delayed the delivery of certain materials, including an emergency generator, for the new terminal, Cram said. In addition, one of the project’s major suppliers is going through bankruptcy.

It became apparent in mid-December that contractors wouldn’t meet the Jan. 25 completion date, Cram said.

“I’m sorry to stand here tonight and tell you this date will not be met,” Cram said.

Officials had been pushing to finish the expansion before the spring golf and tourist season started to heat up, aiming for it to be fully operational and ready for travelers on Feb. 19. The new terminal’s six additional gates will bring the total to 13.

Cram said there are signed contracts in place to ensure the new March 19 completion date is met.

Mike La Pier, director of Horry County Airports, said the construction extension won’t affect the terminal’s $118 million budget unless they fail to meet the March 19 deadline.

“We’re running very close to budget, a little under,” La Pier said.

Despite the news, council members weren’t discouraged by the delay and indicated these types of problems happen with a project of this size.

“I don’t see any kind of issues out there that’s going to be bothersome to the people,” said Councilman Harold Worley prior to Tuesday’s meeting.

Work began on the new terminal in late 2010 after a three-year process to get to its current design, which included a failed attempt to put the expansion on the west side of the runway.

It took a few years for the design to collect most of the necessary approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Myrtle Beach Community Appearance Board.

The airport is owned and operated by Horry County, but because it is inside city limits, the appearance board had to approve the external appearance and design. In other council activity from Tuesday, the panel handled the annual business of selecting a new vice chairman.

Councilman Gary Loftus was chosen as that person. He’ll oversee all County Council meetings until the April 30 special election to fill the chairman’s seat vacated by Tom Rice following his November 2012 win to become U.S. representative for the state’s 7th Congressional District.

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