Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

In-State Contractors Sought for Turnpikes

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

In-State Contractors Sought for Turnpikes

Article excerpt

Oklahoma contractors are actively solicited for work on the four turnpikes under construction, according to Richard Ridings, chief executive of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.

While in-state firms normally receive 80 percent of the contracts for state highway projects, Ridings said the authority's staff is doing everything it can to increase that number.

"I will not speculate on the number of Oklahoma firms which will bid on the projects, or how many will win contracts," Ridings told turnpike trustees meeting in Oklahoma City Thursday. "We should know more after we receive bids on our first major project.

"But we are meeting with contractor groups, lining out specifications for the various projects, working with them so they will understand just what we want to do.

"We will do everything we legally can to maximize Oklahoma contractors for them to become successful."

One thing the staff is doing to assist smaller state firms, Ridings said, is breaking large projects into several small contracts.

"By having smaller contracts, in the $3 million to $5 million range," he said, "we are able to maximize the number of in-state firms.

"If we had one large contract of, say $25 million, there may be some contractors who could not bid because of bonding capacity or because of the number of personnel required. But, these contractors could qualify for the smaller projects."

In response to a question from Trustee O. Lee Howser, Ridings said he beleives there are enough Oklahoma firms to meet all contractural requirements in building the four turnpikes.

"There may not be enough personnel, however," he said. "According to our enabling legislation, of all employees actually engaged in the construction of the turnpikes, 90 percent of them must reside in Oklahoma. I feel we'll be able to meet that requirement."

Land acquisition and engineering planning and development is proceeding on schedule for all four turnpikes with several minor contracts already awarded. …

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