Airport Rental Car Project Suspended

The Port of Seattle Commission voted Dec. 15 to suspend construction of Sea-Tac Airport’s $412 million rental car project for up to one year. The commission said the suspension was due to the port’s inability to sell the taxable municipal bonds needed to fund the project during the global downturn.

The decision could cause the project to cost $40 million more. The port had planned to debut the project by spring 2011. The suspension threatens as many as 3,000 jobs until the bond market improves.

Turner Construction, the general contractor and construction manager, asked the port to conduct a controlled and selective slowdown of the project. Several labor groups echoed the request.

But the commission refused. Continuing to borrow money from the airport’s general fund to lend to the project’s construction, as in October when the commission authorized the transfer of $20 million from the general fund, would be irresponsible, said the port’s staff and its elected board of overseers.

Rental car company representatives also asked the port to consider just slowing down the project rather than suspending it.

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