SPRINGFIELD - Construction on Southern Illinois University's Transportation Education Center is on hold because the state has been sued over the process of picking a builder for the project.

St. Louis-based K&S Associates Inc. offered to build the project for $37.4 million, the lowest available offer. But the state went with a Peoria company, saying the application sent in by K&S was flawed.

So K&S has sued the state, and a trial is set for June 4 in Springfield.

"The whole thing is just unbelievable," said Thomas Kraska, president of K&S.

Dave Blanchette, spokesman for the state's Capital Development Board, said the company simply didn't provide the required information in submitting its bid. The company didn't list how much money would be required by each subcontractor on the project.

"CDB determined that was not an acceptable bid," Blanchette said. "We feel we were following the applicable state rules."

Kraska argues the company corrected their bid quickly and that the forms were unclear to begin with. A judge in Springfield could get the final say.

The project is a big one for SIU. Almost $57 million has been approved to pay for the center, which would be located at Southern Illinois Airport in Murphysboro. It would house the school's automotive and aviation program.

There are big stakes for the bidders as well. The project was part of the massive public works program approved by lawmakers last year.

"This is a huge project for us," Kraska said. "It would really help us out a lot in these tough economic times."

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