Low bid for W.Va. judicial center project exceeds $12 million

August 19, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Martinsburg general contractor's $12.8 million bid for the second phase of renovation work planned for the Berkeley County Judicial Center was the lowest of three proposals announced Thursday by county leaders.

Along with renovation of what is known as the Crawford Building at the judicial center's campus at 380 W. South St., the low bid submitted by W. Harley Miller Contractors Inc. includes reconstruction of an adjoining parking lot, installation of a chiller system, demolition of a South Raleigh Street home for the parking project and security system integration with the first phase of the project, Berkeley County Administrator Deborah Hammond said.

The other bids for the work that are being reviewed were from Palmer Construction Co. of McConnellsburg, Pa. ($13,075,000), and Brechbill & Helman Construction Co. of Chambersburg, Pa. ($13,550,000), Berkeley County Commissioner Ronald K. Collins said Thursday.

DMJM Design architect Matthew Hjermstad said Thursday that he expected his firm's bid review to take about three weeks before a recommendation would be made on what bid the county should accept.


Brechbill & Helman, the general contractor for the first phase of the judicial center, was paid $19,452,263 for that work, Hammond said. That bill didn't include DMJM architecture and design fees or the building's purchase price.

Given current economic conditions, commission President Steven C. Teufel said Thursday he didn't feel comfortable immediately moving forward with the project, but also noted it likely wouldn't begin in earnest until next year. It is hoped that construction will be completed in 2009.

Teufel estimated the county's costs for the judicial center's first phase and relocation of the county's administration facilities to the neighboring Dunn Building at 400 W. Stephen St. amounted to about $30 million.

The second phase bids exceeded the maximum $10 million limit on bond debt allowed to accrue in one year, Teufel said.

"I think we'd be remiss not to move forward (with the project)," Commissioner William L. "Bill" Stubblefield said when asked if the county could afford the second phase. Collins echoed those sentiments.

Faced with population estimates approaching 100,000, county leaders are expecting to find space for one or two more magistrates and possibly another 23rd Judicial Circuit judge in the next few years.

"We have little choice but to move forward," Stubblefield said.

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