Protest could delay Wares Creek project in Bradenton for more than 3 months

nwilliams@bradenton.comJanuary 15, 2013 

MANATEE -- A protest filed against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' selection of a Miami company to perform the next phase of the Wares Creek flood project may delay the project for up to 100 days or more.

The Corps of Engineers on Jan. 4 awarded a contract to PAC COMM Inc. to perform the third phase of the flood control project, which was expected to begin as soon as February.

During the third phase, the creek channel will be widened to about 25 feet and made about 1 foot deeper from 21st Avenue West to 30th Avenue West.

On Jan. 9, however, a company called Cayo filed a protest against the bid selection, and the construction activity has been suspended as a result, according to Amanda Ellison, public affairs specialist for the Corps of Engineers' Jacksonville District. Ellison said protests are generally resolved within 100 days, though further appeal is possible.

The estimated cost for this phase is between $10 million and $25 million, according to Corps documents.

The phase work also will include dewatering, storm drainage modifications, and demolition of existing structures. Manatee County acquired 97 parcels of land with buildings to be demolished or removed for the project.

The $51.8 million project was designed to reduce flooding along Bradenton's Wares Creek neighborhood.

Contractors in August finished dredging 37,000 cubic yards of material from the flood-prone creek as part of the first phase of the project.

The protest is being handled by the U.S. Government Accountability Office in Washington. A target date for a federal agency report on the protest is Feb. 11, at which time the agency will formally respond to the protest, said Kenneth Webb, a paralegal with the office's Procurement Law Division. Following the agency's report, Cayo will be allowed to comment on the report within 10 days.

"The county has no formal lines of communica

tion with the Corps regarding its procurement process, including bidding or resolution of disputes," said Nick Azzara, county spokesman. "We were aware there some difficulties to be resolved, but the county has no role in resolving those disputes."

Prior to the GAO filing a report on the protest, Webb said the agency can try to take corrective action or request a summary dismissal of the protest based on the arguments.

Webb said the litigation is still in the discovery process.

Nick Williams, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams

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