A firm whose president criticized the state’s awarding of a $60 million highway contract recently was awarded a $36 million contract Tuesday to widen Interstate 12.
Gilchrist Construction Co., of Alexandria, was picked to widen I-12 from just east of Pete’s Highway to Juban Road, the state Department of Transportation and Development announced late Tuesday afternoon.
Gilchrist said it could do the work for $36.2 million and finish in 604 days.
Construction is set to begin this summer and is scheduled for completion by early 2012.
Gilchrist also had the best technical score, said Jodi Conachen, director of communications for DOTD.
The only other bid considered was submitted by Barriere Construction Co. of Metairie, which said it could do the work for $36.9 million and finish in 581 days.
A third bidder, Diamond B Construction Co. of Alexandria, exceeded the state’s $37 million cap for the work, Conachen said.
The system used for the I-12 work is called design/build. That means the project will be handled by a joint team of highway designers and builders rather than having those steps handled separately.
That method is supposed to allow for faster work that also saves tax dollars, even if it is not the lowest bid.
However, a similar system was used in February to award a $60 million contract to a firm with the highest bid and longest time to do the work — Boh Brothers Construction Co. of New Orleans.
That decision triggered fierce criticism from state lawmakers. Former DOTD Secretary William Ankner, who made the call, resigned in the midst of the controversy.
One of the losing firms on the $60 million, I-10 work was Gilchrist, which said it could finish the project for $39.7 million, and in less time than the winning bid.
Randy Gilchrist, president and chief executive officer of the firm, told a legislative committee on Feb. 4 that the process used by the state was “off track.
By Will Sentell
Source: The Advocate