Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2009 | 3:23 p.m.
CARSON CITY – The state Transportation Board awarded a $246 million contract to Las Vegas Paving for the first phase of an Interstate 15 widening project but also, in a first, gave $300,000 to each of the three losing bidders.
The three losing bidders for the project -- to widen I-15 to four lanes in each direction from Tropicana Avenue to Sloan Road -- were Granite Construction, Kiewit-Frehner and Skanska Flatiron Constructors.
Transportation Director Susan Martinovich and her staff said it was the first time losing bidders were compensated for vying for a design-build project. The goal was to get the best bids and the three required bids to award the project.
The amount of the bids submitted by the three losers was kept confidential and even the board, headed by the governor, was kept in the dark. After extensive discussion, Martinovich said the figures would be presented to the board and to the public.
Las Vegas Paving announced it had submitted the low bid that also calls for building a Sunset Road bridge over I-15 and reconstructing the Warm Springs Road bridge. There would also be improvements to the southbound Silverado Ranch off-ramp.
Gibbons wondered how the $300,000 was arrived at for each contractor. Scott Rawlins, deputy transportation director, said it was based on market research, the size of the project and a determination whether the contractors could meet all the requirements. He said it was designed to “encourage competition.”
Gibbons said the profit may be small for the winning bidder and the company may make less than those who didn’t win the contract. “Ought there be a stipend for the winning bidder?” he asked.
Department officials said no.
Construction is scheduled to start late this year and be completed in December 2011.
Daniel Wong, chief deputy attorney general, told the board that the losing bids are kept secret while the department negotiates with the lowest responsible bidder. Once the contract is signed by the department, than the bids can be revealed, Wong said.
But Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki said, “I don’t know why we can’t see the bids.” He argued it was public information.
Senior Deputy Attorney General Louis Holland said the regulations prevent the release of the documents.
But Frank Martin, a Las Vegas contractor and board member, said he discounted the opinion of the attorney general. He said this information is available in bidding procedures in other government construction project.
Martin said the policy of keeping the bids a secret “doesn’t hold water.”
The department agreed at the end of the discussion to provide the amounts bid by the three losing companies.