Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Cheap Dirt Erodes State Turnpike Bids

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Cheap Dirt Erodes State Turnpike Bids

Article excerpt

If you bought something "dirt cheap," that may not have been such a bargain.

That's what members of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority found out Thursday when they awarded four contracts to build extensions of the Creek Turnpike in Tulsa.

Combined, the four lowest bidders were $8 million below estimates, mainly because of the differences in dirt work and buying dirt to build a roadway base. One of the four contractors, though, submitted a bid slightly higher than the engineer's estimate. The biggest savings came from Tulsa-based Horizon Engineering, which received the $9.7 million contract for grading and draining on a section of the Broken Arrow South Loop of the turnpike. That was 33.2 percent, or $4.84 million, below engineer's estimates of $14.56 million. "Historically, engineer's estimates are a little high when to comes to grading and draining contracts," said turnpike engineer Stacey Trumbo. "We hear of the higher prices for dirt and build those into the contract. But in this case, the prices were not as high as we had been led to believe, so the bids came in much lower, reflecting better dirt prices." Other low bidders on the four grading and drainage contracts were: * Sherwood Construction, $14.15 million for grading and drainage of the longest section of the west Creek extension. Sherwood's bid was 9.4 percent, or $1.46 million below the $15.6 million estimate. * W. N. Couch Inc., $1.8 million for another portion of the Broken Arrow South Loop, the only contract in the group to be above the engineer's estimate. Couch's bid was 0.3 percent, or $5,909, over the estimate of $1.84 million. * Keck Contracting, $13.99 million for the largest potion of the Broken Arrow South Loop. Keck's bid was 10.9 percent, or $1.72 million, below the estimate of $15.7 million. All the winning contractors are based in Tulsa. The disparity between the engineer's estimates and actual bids caused some consternation among the authority's staff, according to consulting engineer Ken Morris of The Benham Group. …

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