Bypass contract awarded, ground breaking in October

Work will begin next month on the $69 million project which will complete the Carson City bypass from Arrowhead Drive to Highway 50.

Ames Construction of Minnesota was formally awarded the contract and given notice to proceed last week after Carson District Judge Bill Maddox tossed out a lawsuit by Road and Highway Builders LLC, of Reno.

The Reno firm filed a legal challenge Aug. 25, holding up the formal award of the contract to Ames by arguing the company was using subcontractors not licensed in Nevada -- Fontana Steel of California and Q Concrete of Utah. Nevada law requires any subcontractors receiving more than 5 percent of the total contract be Nevada licensed at the time of the bid.

Road and Highway Builders was second-lowest bidder at about $1 million higher than Ames. Attorney Richard Buenting argued the company was the "lowest legally qualified bidder" and should get the contract.

Deputy Attorney General Pierre Gezelin argued Nevada law is superseded on that point by federal laws and regulations because the bypass project is 95 percent federal highway fund money.

Under federal law, "no contractor shall be required by law, regulation or practice to obtain a license before submission of a bid or before the bid may be considered for award of the contract." Gezelin told the court the Federal Highway Administration has ruled the statute requiring subcontractors be Nevada contractors at the time they bid on a project "hinders competitive bidding."

In an order signed Sept. 10, Maddox agreed and dismissed the case. The order points out the project is funded by federal money and that the bid documents "clearly say there is no requirement contractors be licensed at the time of the bid."

With the legal challenge out of the way, state transportation spokesman Scott Magruder said, groundbreaking is scheduled at the start of October. The process will take about three years. The first phase prepared the route from Arrowhead Drive to Highway 50 and paid for construction of four overpass bridges. This phase will lay the road connecting those structures and build the bridge over Highway 50.

The project will cost $68.9 million.

The second half of the bypass project, from Highway 50 south to the Spooner Summit junction, is still in the design process. It has not been scheduled for construction yet.


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