Construction on the much-anticipated U.S. 301/Pretty Pond Road intersection project in Zephyrhills is in jeopardy of being delayed.
At issue is a contract the city approved for the project, which is considered to be an important improvement to spur commercial development in Zephyrhills.
The city chose BRW Contracting Inc., a Land O’ Lakes company that isn’t on the Florida Department of Transportation’s pre-qualified vendor list.
Florida statute requires contractors to be prequalified with FDOT in order to bid for the performance of road, bridge or public transportation construction contracts greater than $250,000.
The intersection project is being funded via a $2.3 million appropriation included in this year’s state budget.
The Zephyrhills City Council last month unanimously awarded the project bid and construction agreement to BRW Contracting, in the amount of $2,161,884.40.
The pre-qualification dilemma was brought up by Zephyrhills City Manager Billy Poe during an Aug. 10 council meeting. He characterized the issue as “a little bit of a hiccup.”
Poe told council members he’s heard conflicting reports from state officials on whether or not the requirement can be exempted for this particular project. He is awaiting final word from state transportation officials.
Further exacerbating the issue, BRW Contracting has indicated it’s not interested in going through the pre-qualification application process at this point, Poe said.
One possible solution could have been to fast-track that process if the contractor had agreed, the city manager said.
If FDOT doesn’t waive the pre-qualification requirement, the city likely will need to re-bid the project.
Besides delaying the project’s start date, Poe said there’s “a pretty good chance” that the new bids would come in higher. He estimated the difference could be as much as $500,000 to $1 million more.
“I don’t know the science behind that (cost) increase, but we know if we go out to bid, it’s not going to be cheaper,” Poe told council members.
Council president Charlie Proctor echoed that point: “My major concern is that it’s going to cost us a lot more money if we have to go out to bid. There’s just no doubt about it.”
The scope of project calls for the relocation of an existing signalized intersection from the shopping plaza entrance to Pretty Pond Road, a signalized intersection at Medical Arts Court, and all other required roadway improvements.
The addition of signalized intersections at these locations is designed to improve the mobility and serve as an economic driver for the northeast and northwest corners of Pretty Pond.
The area is expected to be home to a Chick-fil-A, Aldi, and a national hotel chain, among other businesses.
Construction was anticipated to get underway sometime before Sept. 1, with completion targeted for spring 2021.
Meantime, Poe has reached out to the offices of state representatives Randy Maggard and Wilton Simpson, as well as FDOT District 7 secretary David Gwynn, for additional guidance and other available options on the matter.
With that, he’s informing state leaders that BRW Contracting is a company the city has worked with previously and has confidence in. The contractor helped build out Simons Road, among other projects.
Should the city be forced to bid the project out again, Zephyrhills City Attorney Matt Maggard said canceling its contract with BRW Contracting shouldn’t present a legality issue.
But, he added: “We really don’t want that to happen.”
Published August 19, 2020