After three years of delay, design is under way on a key component of one of the nation’s largest airport intermodal construction projects. But costs have risen, and Miami-Dade County must incorporate a $30-million cost increase into what could be a $342-million price tag for an automated people-mover system to link the airport with an intermodal center and consolidated car rental facility.

The Miami-Dade Aviation Dept. last year rejected three design-build-operate-maintain bids, submitted in 2005, for noncompliance and nonresponsiveness. After negotiations, one of the bidders, a joint venture of Parsons Corp., Pasadena, Calif., and Odebrecht-USA, Coral Gables, Fla., got the notice to proceed under a three-year $259-million design-build contract in October. Construction of foundations is slated to begin in February, says Franklin Stirrup, Parsons project manager.

The contract includes eight Crystal Mover APM vehicles provided by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America Inc. and Sumitomo Corp. of America. The county retains the option of contracting with Parsons-Odebrecht for $83 million to operate and maintain the people mover for 15 years.

After years of delay, an automated people-mover project finally is under way.

This job represents the latest in a string of projects Parsons-Odebrecht has undertaken at the airport. The team continues to work on the second phase of the South Terminal project and is in the midst of the $1.1-billion North Terminal project. Parsons-Odebrecht and Sumitomo are building a $134.9-million, one-mile-long North Terminal rooftop people mover to shuttle passengers between the terminal’s four passenger stations. That is scheduled for a 2010 completion.

Airport officials say the $30 million will be made up by drawing on state grants, bonds and possibly raising facilities charges for car rental customers.