Scarsella bid for Tremont project doesn’t add up; ACI instead is apparent winner

PORT ORCHARD — When does an apparent winning contractor bid on a Tuesday drop to also-ran status on a Thursday?

It happens when your bean counters fail to correctly tally your cost numbers. Which is what happened to apparent Tremont Street Widening Project contract winner Scarsella Bros. when the company’s bid was fully analyzed the day after by City of Port Orchard officials.

Mayor Rob Putaansuu said on Thursday, June 8, that the Scarsella Bros. bid of $11,472,645 — approximately $1.3 million under the second-lowest bid of $12,779,179 by ACI — was off by about $1.5 million. Putaansuu, who said he didn’t have the accurate Scarsella bid immediately available, was disappointed by the discrepancy.

“But it makes sense now since the bid was so far off the other bids,” he said. “We got three bids within $300,000 of each other.”

Putaansuu said even with the bid correction, ACI’s apparent winning bid is still under the engineer’s estimate of $12.9 million for the Tremont project.

After the city’s public works and finance departments complete their verification work, the apparent winning bid will go to the state Department of Transportation for their own review. Putaansuu said when the city receives the approval go-ahead from WDOT, the bid will go before the City Council on June 27.

Bids were opened June 6 at Port Orchard City Hall’s council chambers and announced to a gathering of City Council members, Mayor Rob Putaansuu, city officials and representatives from the bidding construction companies.

The lower than expected bids were welcome news to a jubilant Putaansuu and Mark Dorsey, the city’s Public Works director.

Putaansuu credited state Sen. Jan Angel with being a critical conduit for the city to get the last-minute financial buffer from the state.

“I knew when the first bid was opened ($15,706455 submitted by Tucci & Sons) that we were within shooting distance with the $2 million we got from the state, thanks to Jan Angel.

“I can’t sing her praises enough,” the mayor said. “The money she got us gave us that breathing room we really needed going into this to make sure we could pull this off.”

With the bids coming in lower than expected, Putaansuu said the city will now have a greater capacity to borrow money for future transportation projects.

The celebratory mood at City Hall contrasted to that of a year ago. “We had our backs against the wall then. A year ago, we had no funding. For us to be where we are today is just phenomenal. I’m just so excited with the work of the city staff and our council. We’ve all come together and made this (project) a priority.”

Dorsey said the project, which was first envisioned in 2005, “is a culmination of nine years of my life.”

He expects construction will begin in mid-July. Before that, though, the Public Works director said he will issue Puget Sound Energy a notice to proceed so it can begin undergrounding work for the project.

“We want to give them as much notice as possible on ordering long-lead stuff” such as wiring and electrical components.

“If we hadn’t initiated the construction phase by September 2018,” he said, “we’d had to pay back the $3 million” received a few years back from the federal government.”

Dorsey admitted that in March and April, he was worried about the incoming bids skyrocketing.

“I was hearing about bids that were 21 percent higher than expected,” he said.

Putaansuu also was concerned about reports of higher than anticipated bids on similar transportation projects in King and Pierce counties — some as high as 20 percent over expectations.

But here in Kitsap County, at least in a couple of instances, construction bids have been stable.

“The county’s project over on Silverdale Way was within $400 of the engineer’s estimate,” the mayor said. “So here locally, I think we’re not seeing some of the crazy things that are happening elsewhere.”

Putaansuu and Dorsey both nonetheless agreed that a couple of project milestones will be closely watched over the coming months: bringing it in on time and on budget. And, for motorists who regularly use Tremont, to make sure the impact on them will be as little as possible.

“At the end of the day, they’re going to have a phenomenal four-lane road,” the mayor said.

The following bids were received by the City Clerk’s office for opening at 11 a.m. June 6:

ACI $12,779,179; RV Associates $12,866,110; Ceccanti $13,765,178; Rodarte Construction $14,319,397; Granite Construction Co. $14,359,155; Tucci & Sons Inc. $15,706,455. A bid from JR Hayes arrived after the 11 a.m. deadline and was not opened.