"Roadwork snagged again by bid foulupAll five bids were tossed out, pushing the High School Road project back. "
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:54 PM
"A bidding glitch will further delay the reconstruction of High School Road west of Madison Avenue, almost guaranteeing that the busy intersection will still be torn up well into the school year.We should have caught it. Our consultant should have caught it, and the Department of Transportation office in Port Orchard should have caught it, city engineer Jeff Jensen said.Bids were opened Monday for the project, which includes construction of a roundabout at the High School/Madison intersection.But in advertising for bids, the city failed to tell construction outfits to include a list of subcontractors, as required by state law. None of the five firms bidding on the project did so, and the state transportation department ruled Monday that the bids were all invalid.We spent the morning on the phone with the DOT in Olympia trying to find out if there was any way around this, and were told the only alternative is to re-advertise the job and ask for bids again, Jensen said.The city council, which had hoped to award the contract Monday afternoon, then had no choice but to vote instead to re-advertise. The state did approve a two-week bid time instead of three weeks, Jensen said. He said advertising could begin July 21, making bids due on Aug. 3. The contract could then be awarded as early as Aug. 6.The apparent winning bid was $1.43 million submitted by Ace Paving, well below the city's estimate of $1.7 million. Next lowest bid $1.58 million from Stan Palmer. The only subcontracting involved in the job was electrical work for flashing warning lights to alert drivers approaching the roundabout. Although the electrical work is only a minor part of the job - some $20,000, in the Ace bid - deleting the electrical portion would constitute a new proposal, once again requiring re-advertising.The provision of law in question states that on all contracts for work in excess of $1 million, contractors must name certain subcontractors, including electrical, within one hour. The purpose of the 1993 statute, according to the state Attorney General's Office, was to prevent so-called bid shopping, where a general contractor, once awarded a bid, would shop for subcontractors who would beat the quoted price. After-the-fact hunts for subcontractors were condemned as encouraging low-quality work.The naming requirement was instituted to demonstrate that the general contractor did indeed have subcontractors on board, and to give public agencies the opportunity to avoid a relationship with subcontractors who had proved unreliable in the past.The scheduleWhile conceding that most of the roadwork will drag through the fall, public works officials had hoped to have the roundabout completed in a timely fashion.The roundabout is a 21-day job. State law gives contractors 20 working days to get paperwork in order and bonds in place, another 10 working days to get on the job.So even had the contract been awarded Monday, the city could not have required work to begin before Aug. 27, which would push completion of the roundabout past the Sept. 5 school opening. Officials had hoped to beat the school bell by adding incentives for an early finish - $1,000 per day for doing the job in fewer than 21 days, and $2,500 for each day the work was finished before Labor Day, Sept. 3. Jensen said that in light of the delay, those incentives might be re-thought.We'll take a hard look at the dates and see if there is any possibility that the job can be finished before Labor Day, he said. If not, that one will go out, but we'll still want to keep the incentive for doing it fast.City Councilman Norm Wooldridge said he fears the snafu could cost the city money as well as time.Since all the bids have been opened, Ace Paving will be able to see that its bid was a lot lower than anyone else's, he said. What makes us think the bids won't go up?During the roundabout construction, the intersection - among the island's busiest - will be completely impassable. We need to undertake a massive education project to persuade students not to drive to school during that time, and parents not to drive their kids to school, Councilwoman Liz Murray said. If everyone takes buses, it will make life a lot easier. "