By Trent Moore
The Cullman Times
Once bids officially opened Tuesday for the Duck River Dam project, it didn’t take long for contractors to send in their proposals. Less than an hour after bids could be submitted, eight different contractors had made a bid to handle the first phase of land clearing for the dam’s construction.
Officials with the project had expected around five bids initially, which is typical for a project of this scope, and say the more bids that are submitted the more cost-effective the project becomes.
Of the eight bids received, four were from Alabama companies, and four were from firms with regional and national footprints. The bid amounts vary from $4.3 million all the way to $8.1 million, though the city will obviously sign with the lowest responsible bidder, as required by state law.
Steve Newton, with project engineer of record CH2M Hill, said the next step in the process is to review the bid packets and figure out which bidders followed the bid specs and are capable of handling the project.
“We’re very pleased with the results, and of course, generally the contract is awarded to the lowest responsible and responsive bidder,” he said. “Now we will determine that by looking at the whole package, which is a process that should take 2-3 weeks.”
Officials had originally estimated t he first phase of work to cost between $5-7 million, so depending on how the bids turn out, the cost could be below the initial estimate.
“It often comes down to construction means and methods, and what suits the contractors,” Newton said. “Of course, you can’t factor in the competitiveness of the market.”
Phase I includes excavation, clearing work, road construction, geological investigation and quarry evaluation for the dam site.
Newton said a recommendation should be made within the next few weeks as to the lowest, responsible bidder for the project. Once an overall contractor is selected, that entity will hire subcontractors to handle additional site work.
Property acquisition for the project is also drawing to a close, and the land acquisition team has agreements in place with almost all property owners in the dam footprint. Four properties are being condemned, totaling approximately 5 percent of affected tracts. Seventeen purchases involve relocations, though none of the relocation cases are condemnations.
The Duck River Dam project includes the construction of a 640-acre lake with a 32-million-gallon-per-day capacity in northeast Cullman County. The total project is estimated at $68 million, and the lake will be used in conjunction with the area’s current water source Lake Catoma.
* Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.