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Council to award water/sewer contract

By By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
March 31, 2004
Meridian City Councilmen are hopeful they got it right this time when they re-advertised for bids for construction of water and sewer lines to serve a new Interstate 20/59 industrial park.
The council is expected to vote next week to hire a company to do the work more than a month after they opted to re-bid the project due to a glitch.
Kevin Coleman Construction of Wesson, which didn't bid on the project last time, submitted the lowest bid Monday. Coleman's bid edged out previous low-bidder Hemphill Construction Co. by nearly $100,000.
City workers will review the bids and bring them before the council for a vote at Tuesday's regular meeting.
Local economic developers have been awaiting construction on the water and sewer lines because they say it makes it easier to market the new industrial park to prospective businesses.
Councilmen voted last month in a special meeting to re-bid the project after they learned the engineering firm they hired to design the project made an error in a deadline for the last bids. They had hoped to award the construction contract last month.
The problem: Legal ads in which Meridian solicited bids for the project set an 11:30 a.m. Feb. 3 deadline, while an addendum from the consulting firm of Engineering Associates carried what officials described as a typographical error listing the deadline as 11 a.m.
Five companies submitted bids, with Hemphill Construction Co. the lowest at $2.673 million, followed by Bowie River Construction Co. at $2.683 million. Hemphill's bid arrived at 11:10 a.m., while Bowie's arrived at 11 a.m.
Hemphill and Bowie River finished second and third respectively in Monday's bid.
Lynn Guthrie, executive vice president of Hemphill, said he's frustrated with the way the bid process was handled. Guthrie said he's also upset that his company could lose the job to a construction company who didn't bid on the project a month ago.
The $3.1 million project will be funded with a $1.5 million grant from the Economic Development Administration and $1.6 million from the city. While EDA officials granted the city an extension on the grant due to the delays, they did require the job be completed by Sept. 26, 2005 in a sternly-worded extension letter.
Meridian Public Works Director Monty Jackson said the delays could actually save the city money. Jackson said the extra time allowed staffers to make changes to the bids which is why he said the lowest bid this time came in about $200,000 lower.