Bidding process needs review

Dear Editor:

First we have the tragic collapse of the Interstate 35 Bridge with the replacement bridge bid being awarded to the high and not the low bid. Now we have another multi-million dollar bridge bid submitted by a well-known and reputable contractor located in Maple Grove, Minn. Almost $6 million lower than the second low bidder. They were not awarded the contract.

All three of the contractors [two of the bidders consisted of two contractors bidding together] are well qualified to complete the project. There is a tremendous amount of labor hours, research and knowledge needed from all three of the contractors and their qualified sub-contractors to put together a solid bid.

Contractors need to be bonded for the amount of their bid. Sometimes the sub-contractors are unable to bond their portion of their sub-bid. At this point, the general contractor must carry the bond on this sub-contractors work. How much risk are you willing to assume working with an unknown subcontractor? McCrossan contacted 83 DBE {Disadvantaged Business Enterprise} sub-contractors and had work commitments from 16 of them. If this doesn’t demonstrate a commitment to reach MnDOT’s target I don’t what does. The bond cost for this project would be a very large amount. The bond needs to be accompanied by a reputation of completing projects of this size as well as a financial net worth of a considerable amount. There aren’t that many contractors that can bond a project of this size. Minnesota is fortunate to have so many qualified contractors that can bid a project this large; let’s treat them right. What is the point of having the bid process if it is invitational or open if you do not accept the low bid?

It didn’t seem to bother MnDOT when they spent almost $6 million of our tax money at bid letting by not awarding the contract to the low bidder but now that McCrossan has filed suit they are quick to point out how millions of dollars will be needed to make up for the possible delay of the project. [Bridge bid suit could be costly, May 1, 2013 Star Tribune]. The people responsible for the decision to award this bid to the second low bidder should be fired.

Minnesota has laws in place in regard to fair bid practices, but if low bids mean nothing to MnDOT, then I suppose the bid laws mean nothing either. We have elected officials that should be controlling MnDOT employees. Where are they?

Jerry Nordby