Political watch group questions cost of airport terminal - CBS46 News

Political watch group questions cost of airport's new international terminal

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ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -

The new international terminal is open for business, but a political watch group complains the building cost too much and was built based on political cronyism instead of need.

Airport officials said the new terminal will bring thousands of jobs to metro Atlanta and pump in tens of millions of dollars.

"It's going to be huge. It's a $32.6 million impact," said Louis Miller, Aviation General Manager with Hartsfield-Jackson.

Watchdog group Common Cause,  however, said that companies that contributed the most to the campaign of former Mayor Shirley Franklin got contracts to help build the terminal and those who contributed to current Mayor Kasim Reed received preference on concession contracts.

"Former Mayor Franklin raising almost $650,000 from this process. Mayor Reed, so far, only from winning bidders has gotten almost $200,000," said William Perry, executive director with Common Cause. "You gotta ask the question, 'Why was it built?' We think campaign contributions and campaigns benefited."

A spokesman for Reed said the mayor had nothing to do with the awarding of contracts.

Miller said companies were not "selected from that. There was an independent selection process."

The new terminal cost $1.4 billion, far more than the $688 million projected years ago in the early planning stages. Perry also complained that is too much money to spend and it's unnecessary.

"I still don't understand what drove the cost up so much. There's no justification for that steep price. Current traffic and traffic coming for many years could be accommodated by the old concourse without any expansion," Perry said.

Concourse F adds 12 new gates to the airport and will accommodate the tens of millions international passengers expected over the next few years.

Miller said the airport needs the terminal to keep up with the growth in international passengers.

"It's necessary and it doesn't cost too much," Miller said.

CBS Atlanta News asked Miller why the cost increased so much.

"It's not just the terminal. You've got to look at what's being built. It's the terminal concourse the roadway system, taxiways," Miller said.

"The politicians received a wave of campaign contributions from projects like this and we want to put an end to that," Perry said.

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