YVRA bids are due next week | SteamboatToday.com

YVRA bids are due next week

Reasoning that a delay would cost even more, county commissioners voted Tuesday to fund the next round of airport improvements for about $640,000 more than planned.

The project includes an expanded parking ramp for large commercial jets, improved parking facilities and a new terminal access road. Assuming the Federal Aviation Administration approves cost-saving changes to the project, and next week’s bid opening for related terminal expansion doesn’t provide any unpleasant surprises, construction could begin in mid-July.

“If we’re looking at delaying this project, it’s only going to cost us more,” Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said. “We need to move ahead and award the bid.”

The commissioners agreed to sign an $8.14 million contract with Connell Resources of Steamboat Springs and Fort Collins. Connell was the sole bidder on the project.

Although the FAA, and to a lesser extent the county, will pay more than anticipated for the project, Connell and the county’s engineering firm collaborated to trim about $1.25 million from the original bid of $9.4 million.

The project was scheduled to go out for bid in January and the county’s engineering consultant thought six contractors were interested. But delays in securing federal grants pushed the bidding process back to spring. The delays proved to be costly.

The county’s consultant, Denver engineering firm Carter Burgess, had estimated a cost of $7.5 million for the paving and roadwork.

Stahoviak told Jim Fluhr, senior project manager for Carter Burgess, that in the future she would appreciate more of a heads up when the cost of airport projects escalates dramatically.

“I’ve been a commissioner for a long time now,” Stahoviak said, “and I can’t ever remember a bid that has come in 25 percent over our engineering estimate.”

Fluhr told Stahoviak the gap between his firm’s estimate and the single bid could be attributed to three rounds of worldwide price increases in cement and the need to separate the paving project from the terminal expansion. When delays in federal grants delayed the terminal expansion until 2006, Fluhr said, it meant the paving contractors would have to send machinery and operators across the mountains several times instead of just once. “If we don’t get three competitive bids, we have to justify that to the FAA,” Fluhr said. He added the mobilization, or set-up, component of Connell’s bid was higher than what his firm is accustomed to seeing, even when contractors have to move machinery and human resources across the Rocky Mountains.

“I’m not here to throw people beneath the bus, and I’m not saying Connell’s (bid) is too high,” Fluhr said, “but we did have just one bidder.”

John West, Connell’s vice president, said his firm does not base its mobilization costs on a percentage basis and the bid for the YVRA project reflects direct costs to his company. The mobilization portion of the bid is just more than $1 million, Fluhr said. “One of the major things is that we are having to mobilize multiple times,” West told the commissioners.

Some of the necessary equipment, and the people trained to operate it, are based in Fort Collins.

“We don’t have people here in Steamboat who are qualified to operate that equipment,” West said.

“That means we have to provide housing and a per diem.”

Fluhr was quick to add that Carter Burgess and Connell Resources worked together to reduce the original bid. Much of the cost savings will come from using asphalt instead of concrete where engineering standards will allow it.

Commissioners opted to keep a $240,000 automated parking fee collector in the project because they are confident it will generate new revenues.