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MSD Board of Trustees to consider contract for Oakville treatment plant

The first reading of an ordinance appropriating $43.6 million for the first phase of construction on the Lower Meramec Wastewater Treatment Plant in Oakville is scheduled to be considered today — Sept. 11 — by the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District Board of Trustees.

The board will meet at 4 p.m. at the district's headquarters on the corner of Market Street and Jefferson Avenue in St. Louis. If the Board of Trustees approves the introduction of the ordinance, it will then appear on the agenda for adoption at the next meeting Oct. 9.

If adopted, the board's action would award a contract to Goodwin Brothers Construction, which submitted the lowest bid for construction of the new wastewater treatment plant. However, the company's bid of $80,598,790 is $25.5 million more than the district's budget for the facility.

Though the district's budget for construction of the wastewater treatment plant is $55 million, a committee comprised of MSD staff and board members recently recommended the full board approve the contract with Goodwin Brothers Construction.

The sewer district's Program Management Committee, which includes Trustees Bart Margiotta and Dee Joyce-Hayes, agreed last month it would recommend the low bid be accepted after a two-hour discussion and a recommendation from Assistant Director of Engineering Brian Hoelscher.

The $43.6 million appropriation will be the first of three during the next two years in order to complete the project on time, according to MSD Secretary/Treasurer Karl Tyminski.

The district is facing a deadline of December 2006 to comply with regulations set by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Hoelscher told the committee that the district received a fair bid and it should award the contract accordingly.

"We know right now that we feel we've got a competitive bid price for the product that we put out," Hoelscher told the Pro-gram Management Committee. "We know that the service and the features that we have in the plant right now are needed now and are needed 15 years from now. That leads to the recommendation. All these factors considered, the staff is recommending that we award the contract as bid to the low bidder."

But a longtime critic of the sewer district, Tom Sullivan, recently sent a comprehensive letter to the Board of Trustees urging the board to seek new bids for the project.

Sullivan told the Call that the district should rebid the project even if it doesn't make changes to the design.

"They definitely need to rebid the contract," Sullivan said. "When there is $10 to $15 million that could be saved, they need to look at that."

At the recent committee meeting, representatives from Alberici Constructors, the second-lowest bidder, also told committee members they should rebid the project.

Leroy Stromberg, chief operating officer for Alberici Constructors, said bid specifications for the project made it difficult to get good bids.

He also said there were some unnecessary items that caused the bid to come out higher than the district hoped for.

Stromberg contended that he believed the district could save at least $10 million to $15 million by rebidding the project.

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