Transportation work

Team chosen, major Richland roads projects expected to start this summer January 7, 2014 

— A Kentucky-based engineering firm Tuesday won the contract with Richland County to manage its massive transportation improvement program.

The closely watched vote of County Council – which chose ICA Engineering as its program development team over four competitors – came after council members interviewed all five teams Monday.

“We’ve got staff ready and anxious to go to work,” ICA’s program manager, David Beaty of Lexington, said after the vote.

Council members said they were guided by a commitment to keep money from the $1.07 billion in transportation projects circulating in the local economy and to hire a firm capable of keeping the public informed about multiple projects that will be under way at once.

Awarding the contract gets the process rolling toward paving the first dirt roads and resurfacing the first suburban streets this summer, the county’s new transportation director, Rob Perry, has said.

Beaty said the first order of business will be to help the county prioritize construction projects, which include not only improvements to roads but to public transit, trails and sidewalks – all funded by a penny-on-the-dollar sales tax voters approved in November 2012.

ICA assembled a seven-firm team with four engineering partners, all with Columbia offices. The team also includes a finance management company and public information consultant.

Its engineering partners include Davis & Floyd; Brownstone Construction Group; Hussey, Gay, Bell and DeYoung; and Grice Consulting.

ICA now enters into negotiations with the county on a five-year contract estimated at $50 million. Its selection on a 7-4 vote came after a 45-minute closed-door meeting of the council. Its closest competitor was a team assembled by Columbia-based CECS Inc.

Longtime Councilman Paul Livingston said the contract was the most competitive in a decade or more, while Councilman Greg Pearce characterized Tuesday’s vote as possibly the council’s most significant act of the year.

“This is the beginning gambit of the entire transportation project,” Pearce said.

The county is setting out on an unparalleled, 22-year program that includes hundreds of projects that were outlined for voters.

Richland County is among at least nine S.C. counties taking on major road improvements with local money as the state’s huge transportation system stagnates with a shortage of funding.

About 65 percent of the road improvements Richland County will do are to state-owned roads, Perry said.

The cost of buying rights-of-way for road-widening projects will be included in the contract with ICA, which Beaty said has been located in Columbia for 30 years under its former corporate name, Florence & Hutcheson.

The competing firms set up partnerships to demonstrate their commitment to diversity and to hiring small, local businesses to help design, build, inspect and publicize the projects.

Other teams in the running were led by the Michael Baker Corp., formerly The LPA Group; ENVIRO AgScience Inc.; and M.B. Kahn Construction Co.

Reach Hinshaw at (803) 771-8641.

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