State scales back access road project

Contractors asked to resubmit bids after opening quotes come in too high

Posted: Thursday, November 23, 2006

Two contractors Wednesday submitted bids almost double what was expected for construction of the Juneau access pioneer road, causing the state to immediately scale back the project.

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State officials said they are asking contractors to resubmit bids based on the new scope of the project. The deadline for the revised bids is Friday.

The proposed road would run from Echo Cove to Antler River, 40 miles northwest of Juneau.

Southeast Road Builders and Kiewit Pacific Corp. submitted bids that exceeded state engineers' estimate by more than $20 million. The Anchorage-based company Kiewit Pacific Co.'s bid totaled $51.5 million.

Southeast Road Builders of Haines submitted $66.6 million. The project has been slated for $30 million of state transportation funds.

If the review of the bids shows the engineers' estimate to be too low for the project, "it is going to be a big challenge coming up with the extra money," said Vanda Randolph, a Department of Transportation contracts officer.

Since the project is still in the permitting process, it must be paid for with state dollars; otherwise a federal regulation will take effect requiring completed permits before a contract is awarded.

The pioneer road would extend from the end of the existing road at Cascade Point to the Jualin Mine Road, a former mining site currently being leased by mine operator Coeur Alaska to house the Kensington Mine's mill.

The Department of Transportation will review the bids for accuracy and determine where further funding might come from, Randolph said. If that money is found, the contract would be awarded to Kiewit Corp., the leading bidder.

There would then be a 10-day period for Southeast Road Builders to protest the decision before a final contract can be awarded.

Kiewit also has been contracted by the University of Alaska Fairbanks to build a $23 million academic and research center at Lena Point for its School of Fisheries and Sciences.

Jeff Stacy, contracts manager for Coeur Alaska, attended the opening bid meeting along with representatives from both building companies.

When asked the importance of the road for the Kensington Mine, Stacy said "it is important to everybody in Juneau."

• Brittany Retherford can be reached at brittany.retherford@juneauempire.com.



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