Posted: 10/11/07 21:28, Edited: 10/11/07 21:29
by Dave Mindeman
Over the last week the state has released the I-35 Bridge Protest Rejection; in which 2 of the bidders filed a formal protest about the bidding process for the I-35 Bridge Project. This administration paper gave some incite into how the bidding procedure was conducted.
In addition, another paper (a special report), from the State House Commerce and Labor Committee, outlined the problems and background of the troubled Wakota Bridge project.
There is a lot of relevant information in these two documents which could lead to pages and pages of discussion, but for the sake of brevity, let me sum up two important points.
(1) The Wakota Bridge project began in February, 2003 as a $58 million project that would be completed in 2007. It is barely half done. MnDOT insisted on a bridge design that already had a proven failure record... in fact a Florida bridge (being built at exactly the same time, 2003) of the same design had to be completely retrofitted because of the design failure. The construction firm for the Wakota Project, Lunda Construction, had cost overruns because of the needed design changes and other delays that, a dispute board ruled, were MnDOT's fault. But MnDOT took the contract away from Lunda and refused their new bid even though it was well within the range they outlined. The dispute board ruled again that MnDOT was wrong to terminate and found the department to be in breach of contract. The bridge still sits half finished and the costs will be at least $117 million... double the original contract. And that doesn't count the cost to area business. That is estimated at $36,500 per DAY.
2) This same construction firm (Lunda) was a bidder on the I-35 Bridge Project and came in with the second lowest bid of $178.5 million. That is $55.5 million less than the winning bid of $234 million. Yet they were rejected on the "technical merits" of their bid. The Wakota dispute was not resolved at the time of the I-35 Bridge bidding. Are we to believe that the MnDOT portion of the technical evaluation did not have a bias against Lunda?
If you look at the dollar cost of just these two items, we are talking about additional cost to the taxpayers of $114 million dollars. I am sure MnDOT will argue that the I-35 Project is funded with Federal Money -- at least $250 million -- but we haven't got it yet (starting to wonder about Bush promises?) and the total costs with clean-up are now over $400 million. MnDOT has asked for "front" money of $195 million from the state. Why? Because they are broke.
Couple this with the Crosstown Project, which experienced delay after delay until a $240 million project became a $288 million project -- the largest in state history.
All of these delays (which cost money) and all of these bidding problems (which cost money) and all of these cost overruns (which...well, you get the idea), are the result of a department run on NO NEW TAXES and a credit card. MnDOT is being starved into being a totally ineffective department and the leadership has no plan to fix it.