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Disputed sewer contracts awarded to MJ Construction

By Sean Ryan

Milwaukee has awarded two sewer projects that were caught in a dispute over the city’s bidding preference for local contractors.

The two sewer construction and repair contracts, which have a combined value of $1.2 million, were awarded to Milwaukee-based MJ Construction Inc.

The company was outbid on both projects, but won the contracts because of Milwaukee’s rule that local companies must win if they are within 5 percent of the low bidder as long as the difference in cost does not exceed $25,000.

The two low bidders on the contracts—Underground Pipeline Construction Inc., New Berlin, and American Sewer Services Inc., Rubicon—challenged the contract award numerous times but failed.

The contractors unsuccessfully asked a city panel to overturn the award to MJ, and after losing the appeal filed a lawsuit seeking to block the contract awards. They also asked the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, which gave loans to both sewer projects, to prohibit the local preference.

With the local preference holding up against all of the attempts, MJ Construction can begin construction on the sewers next week, according to Ghassan Korban, coordination manager for the Milwaukee Department of Public Works.

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