Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Second suit filed in Cudjoe project
Company looks to overturn FKAA contract, could affect $30 million grant

A second lawsuit has been filed challenging the awarding of contracts for the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System -- the largest county sewer construction project to date.

Douglas N. Higgins Inc. bid $85.3 million to build an extensive wastewater collection system, but was not awarded the contract. Last month, the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority chose a lower bidder, Layne Heavy Civil Inc. The company bid $79.3 million. For most projects, the Aqueduct Authority selects the lowest bidder, which in this case was Layne Heavy.

On Friday, Higgins filed a lawsuit charging that Layne did not meet all the bid requirements and "was non responsive to the RFP (Request for Proposals)." Layne did not provide cost schedules, preliminary design and pertinent financial information, the lawsuit states.

The Aqueduct Authority's evaluation committee "overlooked material" and "disregarded its own evaluation form and procedures," the lawsuit states.

Aqueduct Authority Executive Director Kirk Zuelch could not comment on the bids or the lawsuits, as it is pending litigation, he said.

Attorneys for the Aqueduct Authority and the Aqueduct's partner on the project, Monroe County, were in court Tuesday defending another lawsuit from another company suing about the awarding of a separate bid to build a separate collection system for another area served by the Cudjoe Regional project.

GlobeTec Construction is seeking to overturn a contract given to Giannetti Contracting. GlobeTec bid $35 million, while Giannetti Contracting bid $200,000 less. Once again, the Aqueduct Authority chose the lowest bidder.

GlobeTec's attorney, Charles King, acknowledged his client's bid was $200,000 more, but said it met more of the requirements and goals -- such as work being done by local, minority- and female-owned subcontractors.

Giannetti did not include female- and minority-owned subcontractors in its plans, GlobeTec argued.

In addition, Giannetti did not properly respond to the part of the request for bids that asked how much work would be done by the contractor, and how much by the subcontractors, King said.

The county's attorneys argued in court Tuesday that the lawsuit could jeopardize $30 million in state funding.

The county received the $30 million last year from the state Legislature, but under the terms that construction contracts for the treatment system must be signed by March 1. The county, which fought hard for the state funding, is concerned that the lawsuit could nullify the contract and the state will take back the money.

GlobeTec's attorney contended that the issue will be resolved by March 1 and the state funding is not in jeopardy.

tohara@keysnews.com

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