Graham Construction & Management Inc., of Spokane Valley, is the new apparent low bidder for a now $21.5 million contract to construct the southbound lanes of a 3.7-mile section of the North Spokane Corridor, after earlier bids were thrown out due to ambiguities in the bid language.
In late April, Acme Concrete Paving Inc., of Spokane, had submitted an apparent low bid of $21.6 million for that project, but the Washington state Department of Transportation decided to reject all four submitted bids and rebid the work. Ralph Robertson, DOT's assistant regional administrator for construction here, says discrepancies occurred in the way information was submitted by bidding contractors regarding their planned subcontracting with what are called Disadvantaged Business Enterprises, or DBEs.
The federal government requires that 8 percent of all subcontracted work on federally funded transportation projects be granted to such businesses, Robertson says. The U.S. Department of Transportation defines a DBE as a small business in which socially and economically disadvantaged individuals own at least a 51 percent interest and also control management and daily business operations. African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, those of other ethnic groups, and women are presumed to be socially and economically disadvantaged, the rules say.
Robertson says the same four contractors submitted bids for the project in the second round of bidding, which closed July 22. He says state DOT administrators arranged a meeting between DBE experts and the contractors prior to the July 22 deadline to provide information that would help them in the rebidding process.
In the second round of bidding, the low bid was about 22 percent less than the $27 million the project had been estimated to cost.
The contracted work will include grading and paving of three freeway lanes between Farwell Road, near the new freeway's intersection with U.S. 2, and the NSC's current southern terminus, at a roundabout on Freya Street just north of Francis Avenue. A parallel stretch of freeway was completed in August 2009 by Acme Concrete, under a $19.5 million contract, and currently is carrying both northbound and southbound traffic. When the new southbound lanes are completed, in late 2011 or early 2012, the completed section will be converted to northbound use only, Robertson says.
The southbound-lanes project also will include construction of four concrete bridges for the route, over Lincoln, Gerlach, and Fairview roads and Market Street, and two pedestrian bridges over Parksmith Drive and Lincoln Road, he says. The contractor also will build concrete retaining walls and will install overhead "bridges" on which to mount signs, and also a variable-message sign and traffic cameras along the freeway section.
The project is being funded through a $35 million federal Transportation Infrastructure Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant.
Meanwhile, Graham Construction also is scheduled to complete a two-mile section of freeway between U.S. 2 and Wandermere Road, and two bridges connecting the new freeway to U.S. 395, in late 2011. It was awarded that $37.5 million contract last summer, funded by a 2003 Washington state gas-tax package.
The completion of that project and the one Graham has just bid on will provide a 5.5-mile, fully drivable divided freeway between Francis and U.S. 395, the DOT says.
Next up, the DOT is completing the design of about three more miles of the North Spokane Corridor from where it ends just north of Francis south to the Spokane River.
Mike Frucci, the DOT's assistant regional administrator for development, says that stretch of the freeway project will involve seven different construction contracts. The first contract will include reconstruction of Wellesley Avenue between Market Street and Freya, and will include work on a freeway interchange at Wellesley. That interchange is planned as a "tight diamond," he says, because of the railroad to the west and properties it is trying to avoid to the east of the project.
Following that work, the DOT plans to focus on the reconstruction of Francis between Market and Freya, Frucci says. The freeway interchange just north of Francis on Freya will be completed through the contract just awarded, he adds.
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