July 17--Orlando International Airport leaders decided to spend almost $170 million Wednesday to build a new people mover, replace two old ones and jump-start a project that eventually could lead to the construction of a second passenger terminal.
"This is kind of a big step," said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, who also sits on the seven-member airport board.
Airport board members approved three contracts worth $168 million that will pay for design, construction and maintenance of a milelong people mover between the existing main terminal and a proposed train depot to the south. Some of that money also will go to replace 33-year-old shuttle systems already operating between the terminal and two of the four airsides.
The new people mover is expected to link to a planned $213 million depot that would open in 2017 and serve a planned train running from South Florida, as well as the SunRail commuter train.
The station and shuttle eventually could connect to a second terminal that would be built if the number of passengers flying into and out of Orlando International grows. The new terminal, created largely for international travelers, would cost an additional $1 billion.
Airlines have balked at the new terminal, saying the existing facilities could be improved to handle more passengers at a much cheaper price.
But Orlando International administrators and board members say future passengers would be delayed and their airport experience greatly diminished if a second terminal is not built. Orlando handles about 35 million passengers annually and would be overwhelmed, officials say, once that number hits 40 to 45 million.
The authority board also decided to spend: $46.1 million extending an agreement until 2024 with Bombardier Transportation USA to maintain the two shuttle systems not being replaced; and $35.4 million to Flagship Facility Services to take care of janitorial needs at the airport for five years.
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