Engineering teams vie for Richland road work

dhinshaw@thestate.com December 18, 2013 

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Five engineering teams are still in the running for a multimillion-dollar contract to manage Richland County’s massive transportation improvement program.

Richland County Council will hear presentations from the five Jan. 6, with a plan to announce its pick the following day.

Originally, the council asked staff to narrow the field to three program development teams. But with groups of road-construction experts and subcontractors looking on, the council decided Tuesday to interview all five personally.

The winning team stands to bring in as much as $50 million over the five-year life of the contract to manage multiple projects across the county. The firm will handle marketing, preliminary designs and plans, acquiring land, putting projects out to bid and inspecting construction.

In the running are:

• Michael Baker Corp., formerly The LPA Group

• CECS, or Civil Engineering Consulting Services Inc., a female-owned business

• ENVIRO AgScience Inc., a black-owned business

• ICA Engineering, formerly Florence & Hutcheson

• M.B. Kahn Construction Co.

The county will negotiate with the winning firm on its fee. Councilman Damon Jeter said council members want to ensure they get the best management team, and feel they should hear presentations by all those in the running.

Some council members felt written proposals may not have provided enough detail on how the engineering firms would employ local, minority and small businesses as subcontractors, Jeter said. Keeping money spent on the $1 billion in transportation improvements circulating in the local economy was identified as a priority by the council early on.

Improvements are being funded by a penny sales-tax for transportation approved by voters in November 2012.

“You want to be able to have some sort of association with the people we’re about to turn this program over to,” Jeter said.

The three firms chosen for the “short list” by a committee of staff members were the Michael Baker Corp., CECS and ICA Engineering.

The council voted unanimously, after a closed-door meeting, to interview all five teams.

County transportation director Rob Perry said final design work will be split among five on-call engineering teams to ensure the firm designing the project isn’t the same one inspecting it. Perry said 22 firms have applied for that design work, costing some $30 million over five years.

Reach Hinshaw at (803) 771-8641.

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