Contractor pushes back after losing $3.5 million 75th Street rehab project by $39

75th Street, which is showing signs of significant deterioration, will be given a major facelift starting in March.
75th Street, which is showing signs of significant deterioration, will be given a major facelift starting in March.

Prairie Village has officially given the green light to the long-planned rehabilitation of 75th Street between State Line Road and Mission Road — but not without ruffling a few feathers in the construction industry.

Prairie Village first put the project out to bid through the Kansas Department of Transportation last fall. But when the low bid for the project came in $1.2 million above the cost estimate the city had used for budgeting, the city went back to the drawing board to see if it could reduce costs.

After altering the plans to include less pavement repair and the installation of a thinner layer of asphalt, the total cost for the project came down around $300,000. Because the new project costs were still nearly $800,000 above what was originally budgeted, the city council approved the use of $500,000 in unspent paving and CARS street rehabilitation money and the reallocation of $300,000 from the city’s drainage repair program to fund the project.

The city and state transportation department put the revised project out for bid Jan. 14. When they came back, O’Donnell and Sons was the low bidder at $3,494,951. Amino Brothers, which had been the low bidder when the city first put the project out in October, came in second this time around. Amino Brothers bid was $3,494,990 — just $39 more than O’Donnell, an almost unthinkably close bid given the size of the project.

City policy directs the council to award the contract to the low bidder, so O’Donnell and Sons was tapped for the project. The council approved the awarding of the contract by a unanimous vote Monday.

But losing out by so narrow a margin after having won the first bid didn’t sit well with Amino Brothers. The company’s attorneys sent a letter to the city saying that if the city had rejected the October bids because the project was significantly costlier than the engineers’ estimates, they should reject the current slate of bids for the same reason.

“Because the low bid remains significantly higher than the engineer’s estimate, the rationale for rejecting Amino Brothers’ prior bid remains and the bids opened on January 14, 2015 should be rejected on the very same basis as before,” wrote attorney Edgar James. “The taxpayers of Prairie Village need to appreciate that a cost savings in the re-bid was achieved but due only to the Project losing elements that provided value to City taxpayers and citizens.”

The letter says that the company’s management “feels like they have been wronged” but that they don’t intend to pursue legal action against the city.

Public Works Director Keith Bredehoeft said construction is expected to start in March and will go through November. During construction traffic will frequently be reduced to one lane in each direction with a turn lane open as well.