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Contractor Files Protest Over Wheeling Parking Lot Bid

Photo by Joselyn King Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott, left, and Vice Mayor Chad Thalman, left, sit down to Tuesday’s emergency city council meeting to hear the first reading of an ordinance authorizing City Manager Robert Herron to spend $12.3 million to build a parking garage at the corner of 11th and Market streets downtown.

WHEELING — A contractor bidding to work on Wheeling’s Market Street parking lot project is formally protesting a lower proposal submitted by a competitor.

Wheeling City Council on Tuesday convened for a short emergency meeting to hear the first reading of an ordinance authorizing City Manager Robert Herron to spend $12.3 million to build a parking garage at the corner of 11th and Market streets downtown.

The proposal from Carl Walker Construction of Pittsburgh was the lowest submitted among four bidders. Other bids included a $15,284,000 bid from CPS Construction Group of Cranberry Township, Pa.; a $16,730,000 bid from Thomarios, a contractor with offices in Pittsburgh; and a $17,173,000 bid from Colaianni Construction of Dillonvale.

Representatives from CPS Construction appeared before council members Tuesday to say they believe the bid from Carl Walker Construction to be “non-responsive,” and failed to provide required pricing for an auger pile foundation system specified in the bid. This renders the bid “incomplete.”

In addition, Carl Walker Construction did not provide an alternate option for the city to review and approve, and “substituted its alternate approach for required prices forming the basis of design,” and the company’s cost proposal is “unbalanced as the clear inequity of its pricing appears to be wrongfully based on a precast superstructure, as opposed to the bid required cast-in-place post tension superstructure.”

Presenting the arguments were John J. Fratto, president and CEO of CPS Construction Group, and advisor John Tobin. A written protest detailing their concerns was delivered to city officials on Monday.

City Manager Robert Herron said architect Victor Greco and his team at the Mills Group reviewed the low bid submitted by Carl Walker Construction and found it to be in compliance with specifications.

They have termed it “a good bid,” and believe the city can move through the process of awarding the company the work, he said.

Carl Walker Construction has experience building parking garages in the region, and has constructed two in Morgantown, according to Herron.

“They are a very reputable contractor, and we are very comfortable that they can complete the job as bid,” he said.

There was a formal bidding process, Herron said.

“We had specifications. We had addendums all compiled by our qualified architect and engineer. We had a public sealed bid opening,” he said. “The architect has reviewed the apparent low-bidder, and found them to be in compliance with that process.

“Based on what I know today, and what has occured with the review of the contractor and the resume of this particular contract, I believe we can move forward.”

Council convened the emergency meeting on Tuesday for the first reading of the ordinance so that a vote on the bids can be awarded within the next month. There is a 30-day hold on the bids, and it is expected costs in the current construction market will continue to increase into the new year.

Council member Rosemary Ketchum was not present at Tuesday’s emergency meeting.

Wheeling City Council is scheduled to have a second reading of the ordinance awarding the bid to Carl Walker Construction at its next regular meeting set for Dec. 7. A vote by council on whether or not to award the bid would occur after the ordinance is read before them a third time.

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