After a sometimes heated discussion, the Great Bend City Council Monday night vote to toss out all four bids it had received for paving the new stretch of Eighth Street between Grant and McKinley. The city hopes to rebid the work and be able to present the new proposals to the council on Aug. 20.
The problem was one of the requirements in the bid specifications drawn up by Josh Golka, the city’s on-call engineer from Professional Engineering Consultants of Wichita. It stated that bidders must present written proof they have Kansas Department of Transportation pre-certification.
“You guys have a very difficult choice to make,” Golka said.
This is not a KDOT project, but Golka said the certification offers quality assurance that the contractor is capable of the job. Golka prepared the specs last fall with input from former City Administrator Howard Partington, former Public Works Director Charlie Suchy and former city engineering technician Carl Otter, who all requested the KDOT requirement.
The specs did allow for either asphalt or concrete.
Bidding for the project were:
• Venture Corporation of Great Bend bidding $468,876.95 from for asphalt which was below the engineer’s estimate of $680,663 for asphalt.
• Suchy Construction Inc. of Great Bend bidding $462,951.61 for concrete (the over-all low bid and below the concrete engineering estimate of $724,233). However, Suchy didn’t have the certification when he submitted his bid, but has it submitted now.
• Vogts-Parga Construction of Newton bidding $497,314.30 for concrete. It has the certification, but did not submit proof with its bid.
• L and M Contractors of Great Bend bidding $514,560 for concrete. It also has the certification, but did not submit proof.
So, technically, Venture had the only legitimate bid, Golka said.
In Fact, “the other bids shouldn’t have even been read,” Golka said. “It was a mistake on my part.”
There were other fireworks as well.
Randy Suchy demanded Golka explain why he hadn’t returned all of his phone calls. Golka said legal action had been threatened so the matter was turned over to their legal council.
Randy Suchy also leveled bid-rigging charges against other contractors.
“How dare you do this?” Venture’s Kip Spray responded.
No good answer
Randy Suchy was vocal about the KDOT requirement. Now, that the work will be rebid with the same criteria, other contractors may be upset.
“Everyone’s cards are on the table,” Golka said. The previous bids are now public and could impact the next round of bidding.
There is another concern. This work is integral to the planned improvements to 10th and Grant intersection since it would help ease traffic during that project.
That is a KDOT project and it will be bid in October, Golka said. But, work won’t start until next March.
Although contractors were given the option to bid asphalt or concrete, Golka said concrete does have a longer life span. “Concrete is a wise investment if it is within budget.”
“This is not an easy decision,” the engineer said.
Councilman Andrew Erb moved to throw out the bids and start over and Councilman Brock McPherson seconded the motion. It passed 4-3 with Councilwoman Jolene Biggs abstaining due to a conflict of interest.