By Jim Allen
The Road and Bridge Subcommittee met on June 9, 2021 at 9:00 with Chair Don Munson, committee members Dick Hein and Phil Morris, and County Engineer Jim Crane in attendance.
The contract for reconstruction of the roads in the Industrial Wind Complex in Newman and Douglas Townships was discussed in detail. On Friday, June 4, at 2:00, a mandatory pre-bid conference was held with 4 contractors in attendance. On June 8, 2021, at 10:00, bids were opened for the construction work in the footprint of the turbines. The lone bidder was Beniach Construction in the amount of $12,430,896.24. The engineer’s estimate for this bid opening was $13,594,670.75. Since the bid was 8.56% below the engineer’s estimate, it was highly advised by the County Engineer to award the bid to Beniach Construction.
Mr. Crane notified EDPR of the new engineer’s estimate when he received it but after numerous efforts to contact their representative by phone, he emailed the information to them. There was no response to the new estimate. As I noted in an earlier column, the original estimate in April was in the $13,000,000 range before it was reduced to $7,787,917.27 after Chastain and Associates discussed the project with EDPR’s engineer, Hanson Professional Services.At that time I tried to contact Chris Brooks of EDPR and Chastain and Associates for clarification of the changes. I received no reply.
To arrive at the estimate for this bid letting, detailed figures for each stage of the rebuilding process were presented, arriving at an amount close to the original engineer’s estimate. As a reminder, EDPR was using another project, Bright Stalk to justify a lower estimate. However, the road damage at the beginning of this project made the comparison invalid.
The full board will now act on the recommendation of the subcommittee at the meeting on June 16, 2021. It is likely that they will approve the contract with Beniach Construction. If EDPR does not dispute the contract, they will have 15 days to place funds for the work. The County will present 5 copies of the contract to Beniach which will allow them to complete the contract
bond. At that time they will have 15 days to begin the reconstruction.
If EDPR disputes the contract for any reason, then the county will have to move to Article 3(F) of the Road Use Agreement and engage a Neutral Engineer to reach a settlement.
The bid is valid for 45 days from the opening, so it is possible that even if EDPR demands a neutral engineer, the process will be completed before the 45 day expiration.