Justice center contractors pre-approved

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Routt County commissioners will choose one of four pre-approved companies to build a 52,500-square-foot justice center.

Commissioners decided Tuesday to ask four of seven companies to submit bids for the project, which has an estimated total cost of about $15 million, and an estimated construction cost of about $12.5 million. The $2.5 million difference is estimated for the cost of the land, fees for architecture and engineering and other expenses.

Before any construction can begin, the county must get an Army Corps of Engineers permit to fill wetlands.

"We're not going to sign a contract with anybody until we know we can move ahead," said Tim Winter, Routt County purchasing and property manager. A decision on the wetlands fill permit was expected weeks ago but has been delayed.

Seven companies responded to the county's recent request for qualifications.

The four companies that were pre-approved to submit bids were locally based TCD and Drahota Construction Co., as well as FCI Constructors Inc. of Grand Junction, and PCL Construction Services, which has a Denver office.

The three companies that were not pre-approved were JE Dunn Construction, Turner Construction Company, and Swinerton Builders, all of which have Denver-area offices.

County commissioners said they decided not to include those companies because they did not have as much experience building in mountain communities such as Steamboat Springs.

Travis Holmquist, construction manager for the project, recommended the county also accept a bid from Swinerton Builders because the company has experience with court facilities and because the architects for the project, HLM Design of Denver, felt that Swinerton should be included.

Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said she felt Swinerton should not be included because it did not show any successful experience building in mountain areas.

Having experience building in mountain areas, where weather conditions can be challenging, was very important in choosing which companies to pre-qualify, Stahoviak said.

Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said he felt the four companies commissioners decided to pre-qualify should be able to submit a reasonable bid and complete the project on time.

The county's plans to build the justice center adjacent to the county jail have fueled continuing controversy from residents and officials who say it is important for the courts to stay downtown. County commissioners have stood by their decision to go west, and have said they plan to continue on that path once the permits are in place.

The plans to be finished before the end of 2005 are behind schedule by a few weeks, Winter said. The pre-qualified companies will have three weeks to put together their bids on the project, and then county commissioners will award the bid.

On that schedule, construction could begin in early August, assuming all of the permits have come in, Winter said.

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