By Joe Tash
Santa Fe Irrigation District directors voted to award a contract for nearly $1.5 million for a package of four pipeline replacement projects, in spite of concerns that the low bid had come in 33 percent higher than an engineer’s estimate prepared for the work.
The 3-2 vote to award the contract to CCL Contracting Inc. came at the board’s Thursday, Nov. 21, meeting. Directors Greg Gruzdowich and Andy Menshek voted against the motion.
According to a staff report, the district’s design consultant, Infrastructure Engineering Corp. (IEC), estimated that the four pipeline projects together would cost $1,122,000. However, the lowest of the three bids received came in at $1,486,000, a difference of $364,000.
Under questioning by the board, district staff said they did not believe a lower price could be achieved by re-bidding the project.
Staff said a combination of factors may have led to the actual cost being significantly higher than the estimate, including fewer contractors bidding on the project, contractors being more selective in their bidding, and being less aggressive in their pricing. The market conditions could be a result of an improving economy, staff said.
The district may have to adjust its timeline for future capital improvement projects to account for the higher cost of this project, staff members said.
The four pipeline projects are located on La Entrada, La Gracia/Via del Alba and La Bajada in Rancho Santa Fe; and on Santa Helena in Solana Beach.