Edgewood expansion could begin in May

March 31, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- Construction could begin as soon as May on an expansion of the congested U.S 40-Edgewood Drive intersection, provided nothing else goes wrong, a project official said Tuesday.

However, there is reason to fear a bidding dispute similar to the one that delayed the project last year could resurface, pushing it back again, Washington County Special Projects Director Gary W. Rohrer told the Washington County Commissioners.

State Highway Administration officials opened a second round of bids for the project Thursday, Rohrer said. The first round of bids, submitted last spring, was thrown out after a dispute regarding the low bidder's paperwork for a waiver of the state's requirement for the use of minority-owned subcontractors.

SHA is managing the project, but Washington County and the City of Hagerstown also are providing funds for the project.

In the second round of bids, the new low bidder also requested a waiver for not meeting requirements for minority-owned subcontractors, said Rohrer, who is representing the county on the project.


It was unclear whether the state was still granting such waivers, and processing the request could require a costly delay for a project that is urgently needed before the new medical center opens at Robinwood, Rohrer said.

All waiver requests are subject to a comprehensive review, which can take months, SHA Spokesman Charlie Gischlar said.

To speed the process, Rohrer said he recommended that SHA award the contract to the second-lowest bidder, which met the minority-subcontractor requirements.

That decision could backfire and cost the project even more time, he said.

"The concern would be that somebody could file a protest, and again, here we are back at this situation," Rohrer said.

It is projected that the project will take about 15 months, and officials are racing to get it finished before the new hospital's projected opening in December 2010.

The improvements are necessary because the intersection is already failing to accommodate heavy traffic caused by increased development, particularly during peak travel times in the morning and evening, officials have said.

The city and county agreed to cooperate with the state on the approximately $12.3 million project, with the city paying about $2.4 million and the county paying about $3.6 million, according to published reports. The state is paying about $6 million.

The project's total cost includes engineering and acquisitions, in addition to construction costs, Rohrer said.

In the recent round of bids, the low bidder that requested the waiver, Kinsley Construction Inc. of Timonium, Md., submitted a bid of about $5.6 million. The second-lowest bidder, Pessoa Construction Co. of Fairmont Heights, Md., submitted a bid of about $6 million.

The five other bids ranged from $6.4 million to $8.9 million.

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