Howard Immel Inc. will not build a new train shed at the Milwaukee Intermodal Station even though the contractor submitted the low $17 million bid for the job.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is relieving Green Bay-based Immel and is in the process of awarding an $18 million contract to the next-lowest bidder, Fond du Lac-based C.D. Smith Construction Inc., according to WisDOT spokeswoman Peg Schmitt.
She said she did not immediately have details of the circumstances that led to the decision to relieve Immel of its bid. Schmitt declined to say if Immel would lose its bid bond or if the bid contained an excusable error.
WisDOT opened bids for the project Sept. 29. Immel bid $17,030,371, nearly $1 million less than Smith’s $18,092,023 bid. Other bidders on the project were Miron Construction Co. Inc., Neenah, with an $18,646,764 bid; J.P. Cullen & Sons Inc.’s Brookfield office with an $18,861,951 bid; and J.H. Findorff & Son Inc., Madison, with a $19,161,935 bid.
“We do not have the contract yet,” said Gary Smith, president of C.D. Smith. “The state has requested additional information, but I do understand that the contract is coming in our direction.”
Kelly Hafeman, Immel president, said Wednesday there was no official decision from WisDOT. He declined to say whether Immel had asked to be relieved of its bid.
For weeks, WisDOT officials declined to comment on the status of the bids. William McNary, the chief proposal management engineer, would say only that all the bids were being examined and that the delay was somewhat unusual.
Bid errors happen but are infrequent, McNary said.
“If a bidder misses something, they can ask to be relieved,” he said. “Or they can say, ‘Well, we’re going to eat that because we have enough someplace else in the bid.'”
Under some conditions, bidders can ask to be relieved of their bids. State law lets a bidder request relief if an error is made and if it was not the result of carelessness or an act of omission. The bidder must show clear evidence the bid contained an error and must promptly request relief in writing, according to the statutes.
The owner, in this case WisDOT, has several options, according to state law. The agency can let the bidder make a correction, waive the bid bond, declare the bid bond forfeited and sue for damages, reject all bids and re-advertise or simply award the contract to the next-lowest bidder.
The 50,000-square-foot train shed is being built largely with federal money that is not directly tied to the $810 million high-speed rail line that is to connect Milwaukee and Madison. Money for the shed was approved long before the high-speed rail and is intended to meet federal laws and city ordinances regarding access for the disabled, fire safety and homeland security. The shed is just south of the station and protects passengers from the elements as they board and disembark trains.
Wisconsin’s two gubernatorial candidates have clashed over the wisdom of the project. Republican Scott Walker earlier said the work is unnecessary, while a spokesman for Democrat Tom Barrett said the improvements are needed to comply with federal law.