Port, Caltrans Identify Design-Build Bridge Contractor
Long Beach Harbor Commission To Consider $649.5 Million Contract May 14
By Sean Belk - Staff Writer
May 8th - Port of Long Beach and Caltrans officials have identified a recommended “best value” contractor for the design-build portion of the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project, considered the single biggest contract in the port’s history.
A joint venture team headed by Shimmick Construction Company Inc., FCC Construction S.A. and Impregilo S.p.A. came in at the lowest cost at $649.5 million and the highest technical score after bids were opened on May 4, said John Pope, a port spokesperson. Other major participants of the venture include Arup North America Ltd. and Biggs Cordosa Associates Inc.
Two other contract teams that pre-qualified for the project, but weren’t selected, were a team led by Dregados USA, Inc. and a team led Skanska, which all had bids higher than $700 million. Cost accounted for 80 percent of the score while technical proposals accounted for 20 percent. A team led by Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., which also pre-qualified, had dropped out of the bid process, according to port officials.
Port staff is submitting the recommendation to the Long Beach Harbor Commission for approval on May 14 to consider a “notice of intent” to award the contract. A decision by the commission on the actual award of the contract is expected in late June, with the project to commence in early 2013.
“This is a vital project for improving traffic flow for the nation’s busiest port complex and Downtown Long Beach commuters,” said Doug Thiessen, the port’s managing director of engineering. “It was critical that this contract deliver the best bridge at the most competitive price.”
The contract also involves following a project labor agreement (PLA), which port staff has worked on with the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council. Although the PLA is not able to require local hiring provisions due to the use of federal funds, the agreement is to require the contractor pay prevailing wage, ensure no work stoppages, strikes or slow downs, and other assurances. While not a requirement, all three pre-qualified bidders of the bridge contract are union contractors and agreed to follow a PLA, Pope said.
Eric Christen, executive director of Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction, however, said the PLA favors union contractors, reduces competition and eventually will lead to added costs. “The port has decided to place big labor special interests that represent less than 20 percent of construction workforce in California, ahead of the rest of the workforce and taxpayers,” he said. “This union-only PLA will reduce bidders and increase costs, period.”
The new cable-stayed bridge is being built alongside the current near 44-year-old arch truss bridge, which is seismically outdated and in disrepair, in order to not interrupt traffic. The old bridge will be demolished once the new bridge is built.
The overall $950 million Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement project is expected to provide for about 4,000 construction jobs annually over five year period and generate $2 billion in economic impact to the region, according to port officials. Funding came from federal, state, regional and port sources.
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