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Snag: successful bidder on SR 14 construction project still in doubt

Low bidder ruled as "non-responsive."

Hold the phone. Although last week it looked as if the oft-delayed State Route 14 reconstruction project through Bingen was finally ready to get into gear, a new bump has appeared in the road.

At the time the bids were opened, the low bidder was Tri-States Construction of Portland. Tri-States' bid to handle the work was $4,399,120, and the Bingen City Council was expected to award the bid to Tri-States at its Feb. 18 council meeting.

However, the Washington Department of Transportation discovered a problem with documentation in the bid package, and Tri-States Construction was ruled a "non-responsive bidder."

According to Bingen Mayor Brian Prigel, because federal funds are going to help pay for the highway project, a certain percentage of the contract package has to go to subcontractors in a "disadvantaged businesses" category.

"One of the companies Tri-States listed as a `disadvantaged business' did not qualify," Prigel explained.

According to Jan Brending, Bingen's clerk/treasurer, Tri-States has requested a hearing on the bid package, so WDOT has suspended action on awarding the contract until a meeting with Tri-States is held and a determination is made.

Two other contractors are also still under consideration: The second lowest bidder was KLB Construction of Mukilteo (bid was $4,569,513). The third bidder is Robinson Construction, Inc. (bid was $4,593,123), of Hillsboro, Ore.

One of the three is expected to be awarded the bid, but at this point it remains unclear which one it will be.

"WDOT will review all documents and make a recommendation to us as to who to award the bid to," Brending explained.

She added that the decision will be made quickly, probably within a week.

"A lot of paperwork has to go into these bids," Brending pointed out. "Someone made an error, or an alleged error, somewhere in the process. It happens."

The engineer's estimate anticipated the cost of the work would be approximately $4,415,000, hence, taking the second- or third-lowest bid represents a jump in the projected cost for the work along SR 14.

Securing the extra money is not automatic, Mayor Prigel noted.

"In a $4.5 million project, this is not a big deal, but at this point we don't know where the [extra] funds would come from," Prigel said.

Work on SR 14 through downtown Bingen was expected to get started by late March. Plans call for repaving SR 14 from the Hood River Toll Bridge to the eastern city limits of Bingen, with new sidewalks along much of the route and extensive "streetscaping" in the downtown business district.

Prigel said he was hopeful the bid could still be awarded within a matter of days, and he was optimistic the construction timetable would not be altered.

"I don't believe there will be any delays," Prigel said.


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