San Diego International Airport is running out of room, but for now it has nowhere else to go. A November ballot proposing Miramar Marine Corps Air Station as a site for a future commercial airport failed, ending three years and $13 million in site selection efforts. Now, officials must build out the existing 661-acre, one-runway facility as quickly as possible to handle 32 million annual passengers by 2030.

The ballot measure proposed that 3,000 acres of the 23,000-acre Marine base, 10 miles north, be converted into a commercial airport. "We put together the most comprehensive study ever done," says Angela Shafer-Payne, vice president of strategic planning for the San Diego Regional Airport Authority. "We looked at 30 site options. Although not successful, we feel that long-term we conducted a study that [the board] will be able to use." The failed measure echoes a similar bid by adjacent Orange County to convert a closed Marine base at El Toro into a new airport.

Officials are focusing now on a $550-million master plan through 2015 to maximize the current site's capacity, with work on a 10-gate second terminal to begin in 2008. To build as quickly as possible, CM at-risk or design-build contracts are planned, says Steve Cornell, airport facilities development director. Officials will prequalify bidders to help define package elements and establish a guaranteed price based on an agreed design level. The selected team may be able to choose from a prequalified pool of subcontractors. The airport also is considering including commodity indices in contracts wherein "we would hold money aside so if the price of a commodity goes up, we would add it to the contract," says Cornell.

Airport officials will attend the January meeting of the Southern California Regional Airport Authority, which was reactivated after three years by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) to take a holistic approach to the region's aviation issues. "This is by far the most inclusive outreach to bring all players to the table," says Shafer-Payne.