The Nevada Department of Transportation staff experts on Monday recommended Ames Construction be awarded the contract to build the USA Parkway connecting Interstate 80 and Highway 50.
Ames came in about $2 million below the next two closest bidders at $75.9 million but also had the advantage of promising to complete the project more than a full month earlier than the next closest proposal — by August 2017 instead of the end of that year.
The staff analysis was presented to the NDOT Board of Directors but the board won’t actually vote on the recommendation until its January meeting.
NDOT’s Pedro Rodriguez told the board Ames and the other three bidders were all evaluated by two different teams — one to review the technical elements of each plan and the other the financials — basically the total price. Rodriguez said the evaluations were “blind” — meaning evaluators didn’t know whose proposal they were looking at — to prevent any bias.
The technical scores all came out within about one point of the possible 30 points. The total price was where the four contractors differed.
“Going through the numbers, it came down to price,” said Gov. Brian Sandoval, who chairs the NDOT board.
He said the total scores for the top two bidders “are about as close as it gets.”
Ames scored 81.68 out of 100 on the evaluation sheets. Granite Construction scored 90.67. The other two bidders were Q&D of Sparks and Kiewit West which scored 89.38 and 80.52 respectively.
Ames Deputy Project Director Tim O’Dell promised the board it has the experience and the team to get the job done on time and meet all the commitments contained in the contract. He said he has managed more than $4 billion worth of design build contracts for the company.
Ames is expected to start work very shortly after board approval in January.
Members of the board including Sandoval emphasized the importance of completing the highway that will provide the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center — home to Tesla and numerous other major high-tech companies — a direct connection to Highway 50.
“This one we’ve got to get right from the beginning,” Sandoval said.
Member Tom Skancke made similar comments.
NDOT Director Rudy Malfabon said NDOT also will work with companies seeking to install high-speed fiber optic lines along the USA Parkway route as it is built. He made the statement after Sandoval said he wanted to “make sure we are not going to build this beautiful road on time, then dig it up to install cable.”
With Monday’s presentation and recommendation to the board, Ames is pretty much assured the design build contract. Design build enables faster and, often, cheaper construction of a highway because construction starts while the highway is still being designed.
The parkway will run through TRIC form Interstate 80 east through the Virginia Highlands of Storey County into Lyon County, terminating at Silver Springs.
The first six miles of the route is already paved but will be upgraded to state highway standards. Another five miles has been graded but not yet paved. The remaining eight miles through the Virginia Highlands will be designed and constructed by Ames to complete the parkway.
The connection will not only greatly improve freight movement between TRIC and points south but open a route for workers living in the Dayton corridor to jobs at Tesla and other businesses in the industrial center. It will also provide a much shorter route between Lyon County and Reno.
In addition to the construction contract, the highway will cost another $43 million to acquire the right of way through the mountains.