By Brian Johnson
Dolan Media Newswires
MINNEAPOLIS — Contractor C.S. McCrossan has until Friday to respond to legal arguments made by the Minnesota Department of Transportation in the St. Croix Crossing lawsuit.
McCrossan asked a U.S. District Court judge for a chance to respond because of “significant new legal issues raised by MnDOT that were not addressed in McCrossan’s opening brief,” Liz Kramer, an attorney representing McCrossan, wrote in a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kyle.
McCrossan claims in its lawsuit that MnDOT illegally rejected its bid to do more than $50 million worth of approach work for the St. Croix Crossing project.
The contractor was the lowest bidder and had the best technical score, but MnDOT said it didn’t make a “good faith effort” to meet the project’s 16.7 percent goal for including women and minority contractors in the work.
MnDOT selected the joint venture of Burnsville-based Ames Construction Inc. and Black River Falls, Wis.-based Lunda Construction Co. to do the work instead of McCrossan. The Ames/Lunda joint venture submitted the second-lowest bid, which was almost $6 million more than McCrossan’s.
According to Kramer’s letter, McCrossan objects to “use by both MnDOT and Ames/Lunda of information and documents that have not been provided to McCrossan,” including documents that speak to Ames/Lunda’s “apparent ability” to comply with the project’s 16.7 percent goal for inclusion of disadvantaged businesses.
According to the letter, McCrossan requested the records April 16, but that MnDOT has not supplied the information.
“Without them, McCrossan has no ability to meaningfully respond to the arguments comparing Ames/Lunda’s DBE compliance with its own,” according to Kramer’s letter.
McCrossan also wasn’t informed until Monday of “hearsay statements” from the U.S. Department of Transportation regarding the application of DBE goals in design-build projects, according to the letter.
McCrossan is seeking a temporary restraining order to halt approach work and has asked the court to order MnDOT to rebid the project or “refrain from awarding it to anyone other than McCrossan.”
In a memorandum filed Tuesday, MnDOT said that McCrossan “has not demonstrated any likelihood of prevailing in this lawsuit,” and that suspension of the work for a few months could delay completion as much as two years and increase the project’s cost by millions of dollars.
“Currently, the project is scheduled to be complete by December 2014,” MnDOT said in the memorandum. “An injunction that suspends work activity on this project will both delay completion of the project and will result in additional costs; the longer the delay, the higher the cost.”
MnDOT spokesman Kevin Gutknecht said he could not comment on the case.