Cost of Sea-Tac’s New International Arrivals Facility Has Ballooned to Nearly $1 Billion

Sep 12, 2018

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A planned addition for international arrivals at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) will now cost nearly $1 billion, or more than three times the original estimate, according to a review panel that presented its findings Tuesday.

In addition, the new International Arrivals Facility will open eight months late, in August 2020.

The 450,000-square-foot structure would connect the airport’s South Satellite to Concourse A via a 900-foot walkway, increase the number of gates capable of handling wide-body planes on international flights from 12 to 20, add three luggage carousels for a total of seven, and more than double the number of passport booths and kiosks from 30 to 80.

Sea-Tac’s experienced a boom in international visitors in recent years, and its international-arrivals facilities, though designed for up to 1,200 travelers an hour, now averages 2,000 an hour, with complaints of international aircraft forced to wait on the tarmac while previous international travelers slowly make their way through passport control and customs.

The first estimates of the facility were $300 million in 2013, which quickly grew to $600 million and then more than $800 million and now finally $968 million.

“There are reasons to have confidence that these projections are now good projections,” review panel chairman John Okamoto Okamoto told the Seattle Times.

The Port of Seattle and the Maryland-based company contracted to build it, Clark Construction, got into increasingly heated spats that threatened to stymie the project entirely, with each blaming the other for blown budgets and cost overruns. The Port said Clark had lowballed costs and hadn’t accounted for code requirements. In addition, the project ran afoul of hazardous materials that had to be taken care of via a costly process, and construction and labor costs grew along with the city’s white-hot real-estate market.

Representatives for the Port of Seattle and Clark Construction did respond to request for comment by publication.

On Wednesday, the Puget Sound Business Journal reported that the Port of Seattle had replaced the two managers in charge of the project in the wake of the new budget findings.

Still, Seattle can take solace in knowing that its increasingly pricey airport addition isn’t America’s most egregiously inflated construction bill: New York’s aging LaGuardia Airport (LGA) is facing a bill of $8 billion.

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