19:45 PM

Mitsubishi ramps up as guideway deck nears completion

(November 17, 2016) An eighth of an inch. That’s the critical measure the Mitsubishi team is working with as it constructs Tampa International Airport’s 1.4-mile people mover system. Any slight deviation in plinths beyond that amount means the work needs to be fixed – or completely redone.


With miles and miles of concrete plinths, guide rails and power rails to construct, it takes a special team devoted to accuracy and painstaking attention to detail to bring the SkyConnect train to life.

“You’re not typically dealing with such rigid tolerances in the construction world,” said Fahmi Waddell, Construction Manager with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America, Inc.

Mitsubishi’s team, which began work on the guideway in summer, is now operating at a brisk clip with about 120 people on board. It will eventually peak at about 200 workers. To date, they’ve completed more than 16,000 feet of concrete plinths and many hundreds of feet of guide rails, power rails and walkway panels. They are in the process of placing cable trays, conduit and other important electrical components across the length of the guideway.

Waddell, who has been on the project for about a year, says the team working on TPA’s people-mover system – called SkyConnect -  has benefited greatly from past projects and lessons learned on Orlando International Airport’s project.

“We’ve brought those experiences here and improved on them,” he said.

When construction on the plinths finishes next year, a months-long testing period on the SkyConnect trains begins.

Waddell and the Mitsubishi team can’t wait for the trains to arrive in April 2017.

“It’s going to be a very big deal when they arrive,” he said. “A lot of blood, sweat and tears have gone into this.”

Like many of the people working on TPA’s historic expansion, Waddell said this is the project of a lifetime – and one that he and his crew will be able to point to for years to come.

“I’ll be able to tell my children, ‘Your dad worked on this really amazing project,’” he said. “Whenever we use the Tampa Airport, it will be a pride and joy of me to bring them here and show them this project.”

He said he’s very proud of the team Mitsubishi has assembled and what they’ve accomplished to date. The members of the team are a diverse coalition from across the globe, including people from Guyana, South America, Cuba, Brazil, Japan and America.

“It’s a blend of all of us – our culture – and all of our experience coming together,” Waddell said.