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Houston to Select Design-Builder for Ellington Spaceport by December

Texas Construction News from Virtual Builders Exchange

Posted: 7-5-2017, 3:28 p.m.

by Adolfo Pesquera

Houston (Harris County) – The Houston Airport System (HAS) has begun the process of selecting a design-build firm to install infrastructure for a spaceport at Ellington Airport, and the intent is to have one under contract by December.

Contractors were invited June 16 to submit Statements of Qualifications and they are due July 27. The selected contractor would constitute the third component of a development team for the construction of what has already been designated the 10th spaceport site in the United States.

The aviation consulting firm Ricondo & Associates was previously selected to prepare a master plan and engineering firm Reynolds Smith & Hills was chosen to prepare design criteria and bridging documents that will be used to perform the final design and construction. RS&H is a fully integrated architecture, engineering, and consulting firm specializing in complex facility and infrastructure projects for land, air, and space.

Ellington, which is the closest airfield to the NASA Space Center Houston, was selected in June 2015 to eventually become a commercial spaceport. That same year, NASA signed a Space Act Agreement to provide its expertise. And in 2016, the HAS opened the 53,000-square-foot Houston Aerospace Support Center, a co-working facility for assisting early-stage space firms.

As detailed in VBX Project ID 2017-5B7E, the June Request for Qualifications was issued to address Ellington’s need for new streets, water, wastewater, and electrical power distribution and communication facilities.

“The Houston Airport System is developing an area of unoccupied land adjacent to Ellington Airport … with the intent to utilize tha area to support space and technology industries associated with a future spaceport,” the RFQ states. Infrastructure will include:

  • Interior streets in the development with either two or fou lanes and connection of the development to existing streets.
  • Stormwater drainage, including pipes and surface drainage and on-site detention ponds.
  • Water and wastewater lines within the development and connection of these services to existing water supply and wastewater collection systems operated by governmental agencies.
  • Power and communications ductbanks which will be used by electrical and communication providers.
  • Gas service lines within the development.

The design build contractor will be designated as the “Prime Contractor” of the Infrastructure for Spaceport Development Project, the RFQ said. All subcontracted work for the project must be awarded to subcontractors via an open and fair competitive procurement process; the DBE goal is 27.3 percent.

Services will be done under a two-phase delivery system. Phase 1 is for pre-construction and design services.

Construction services (Phase 2) are to be executed in three parts–A, B, and C sub-phases.

“Each of these sub-phases wll commence only upon the city’s issuance of a construction NTP (notice to proceed) for that portion of the work and will be completed in accordance with the Scope of Work and durations identified in the NTP.”

Although the city desires to perform all the work of A, B, and C, there are funding and property issues for Phases B and C, which are expected to be resolved by the date of the notice to proceed for sub-phase A, the RFQ states. The city owns all land and has funding available for construction sub-phase A.

The contract time for sub-phase A is 270 calendar days. For sub-phase B, it is 365 calendar days, and for sub-phase C it is 150 calendar days. All design and construction of sub-phase A must be completed within 365 days after the Notice to Proceed.

The HAS will develop a short-list by Aug. 16 and invite them to submit Technical and Cost Proposals, which will be due Aug. 30. Presentations will occur in September and City Council is tentatively scheduled to vote on a recommendation Dec. 6. The contract start date has been tentatively set for Dec. 11.



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About the Author:

Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.