Local firm says it should get streetcar construction contract instead of out-of-town company

08/16/2013 11:46 PM

08/16/2013 11:46 PM

Kiewit-Clarkson Infrastructure Co. has filed a formal challenge to Kansas City’s decision to give an out-of-town company the job of building the downtown streetcar line.

Locally based Kiewit-Clarkson came in second in the bidding to become construction manager. But the company, a joint venture of Kiewit Corp. of Omaha, Neb., and Clarkson Construction Co. of Kansas City, claims the bidding process was flawed.

Had the city scored the bids properly, Kiewit-Clarkson project manager Harry Koenigs wrote in his Thursday letter to the city’s manager of procurement, his company would have been the “lowest responsible bidder.”

A lot of money is at stake, as the total project, including design and construction, is estimated to cost $100 million.

Even before this week’s protest, questions were raised by several City Council members. Some doubt whether the winning bid from St. Joseph-based Herzog Contracting Corp. and California-based rail contractor Stacy and Witbeck Inc. is actually the lowest.

The complaints are aimed at a bidding process that rated proposals not just on pre-construction prices but also on experience in building streetcar systems and a company’s approach to the project.

The Herzog-Stacy team won out partly because of its extensive experience building streetcar lines in cities such as Seattle, Salt Lake City and Portland, Ore.

However, Kiewit and Clarkson countered in their protest letter that they also have experience in building light-rail systems, yet were credited with half the points as the winning bid.

Unstated in the complaint were other concerns that have been raised by local unions. They worry that Herzog-Stacy might not use union labor, whereas Kiewit-Clarkson and the third bidder, JE Dunn, contract with the unions. A city official has said Herzog-Stacy has worked out union agreements in the past.

A city spokesman said the protest will be reviewed, but the council will have the final word.

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