Contract dispute resolved

By Kathe Malouf
Special to the Sun

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has denied the bid protest filed by Kiewit Infrastructure West Coast Corp., upholding the contract for the Isabella Dam Safety Modification project that was awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Bay area contractors last September.

By denying the bid protests, the multi- million project, which will raise both the main and auxiliary dams, can once again move forward.

According to the GAO website, both bid protests filed by Kiewit Infrastructure were denied on Dec. 28. Specific information regarding that decision was not posted by the GAO, other than noting that the protest was covered by a protective order, meaning that some information in the decision may require redaction before public release. A final redacted version of the decision, which omits protected information, will be posted when the process is complete. According to the website, a redacted version of the decision is generally available two to three weeks after the bid protest parties have been informed of the outcome of the protest.

Kiewit filed two separate bid protests against the Army Corps of Engineers, one on Oct. 2 and a second protest on Nov. 13, challenging the terms of the Corps’ awarding the $241 million contract to Flatiron/Dragados/Sukut Joint Venture, a group of three contractors from the Bay area.

Corps’ spokesman Tyler Stalker said that they were pleased with the GAO’s decision, which allows them to move forward on the dam modification project.

“We’re pleased with the decision to uphold the contract award so we can get started on this important dam safety project,” Stalker said in an email regarding the GAO’s decision to deny the bid protest.

When contacted, representatives from Kiewit Infrastructure West Coast Corp. did not wish to comment on the GAO’s decision.

In September, the Corps’ awarded a $204 million contract to Flatiron/Dragados/Sukut Joint Venture, a group of three contractors from the Bay area to construct the modifications to Isabella dam that will remediate the safety issues that were identified by the Corps. Those issues include overtopping, seismic and seepage concerns.

Construction at the main dam will include a 16-foot raise of the dam, excavation of a new emergency spillway, modifications to the existing service spillway, temporary modifications to Highway 155 at the main dam’s right abutment and modifications to several recreational facilities north of the auxiliary dam.

The contract included an option to work on the auxiliary dam. Work on the auxiliary dam would encompass abandonment of the Borel Canal outlet works and modifications to the auxiliary dam, which includes a 16-foot raise similar to the main dam. Should the Corps decide to exercise the option, it would increase the total contract amount to $241.75 million.

The Corps’ considers the dam construction to be one contract; however, the option clause for auxiliary dam was necessary due to the fact that the Corps is awaiting a decision from Southern California Edison on the Borel Canal easement that runs under the auxiliary dam. The acquisition and abandonment of the 1,300-foot long easement is necessary to remediate deficiencies associated with the Borel Canal conduit. Once the Borel easement is finalized, work can begin on the auxiliary dam.

According to the Corps’, funding in the amount of $81.5 million has already been awarded for the project with the remaining amount coming through in annual appropriations over the next three or four years.

The bid protest pushed the start of the dam modification project back by a couple of months; however, with the protest decision being finalized, the Corps now expects Flatiron/Dragados/Sukut to begin mobilization of equipment during the coming months.

The Corps estimates that the dam construction will take approximately five years to complete, with an estimated completion in 2022 or 2023.