An unsuccessful bidder has filed a protest over a nearly $100 million contract awarded for a major piece of mitigation for the Savannah Harbor deepening project, and the protest could delay the deepening for a few months.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded the contract for a dissolved oxygen system to CDM Constructors Inc. for $99.6 million on July 31. On Aug. 13, Crowder Construction Company filed a protest with the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
“We have pursued the process provided by federal contract rules that allows us to ask for review by the GAO of how the contractor for the project was selected by the Corps,” Crowder Vice President Jody Barbee wrote in an email. “We believe that our arguments are well founded and have faith the GAO will fairly evaluate the situation.”
The oxygen injection systems will be at two spots on the Savannah River, one adjacent to Plant McIntosh in Effingham County and the other on Hutchinson Island. Fourteen two-story Speece cones will be installed to blend oxygen into the water before it’s returned to the river. The extra oxygen is needed to make up for oxygen depletion caused by dredging the river an additional 5 feet to a depth of 47 feet.
“Because of the protest, the Savannah District must delay beginning the work until the GAO reaches a decision on or before Nov. 23,” corps spokesman Billy Birdwell wrote in an email. “If the GAO decides in favor of the Savannah District, construction can begin shortly after the GAO decision.”
The protest will likely add about four months to the completion estimate for the DO system, previously estimated to take about 33 months. And it may affect the overall project’s schedule.
“The delay of (dissolved oxygen) system construction has the potential to prolong completion of (deepening project),” Birdwell said. “Before dredging the inner harbor can begin one of the two DO system plants, the one on Hutchison Island, must be complete, operational, and shown to be capable of mitigating dissolved oxygen impacts expected (from) the deepening.”
The corps previously expected it would take two years to complete the downstream installation and another nine months to test it, putting the earliest inner harbor dredging at May 2018.
“We are hopeful that the protest will be resolved in a timely manner and we will be able to move forward with the contract award as-is,” Birdwell said. “If this turns out to be the case, then construction costs of the system will not increase.”
More information about the protest is available at the GAO website at: http://www.gao.gov/docket/B-411928.1.