A judge is halting work on MetroLINK’s new $33 million maintenance garage on the Moline-Rock Island border until he can sort out a contractor’s complaint over the awarding of the construction bid.
Davenport-based Estes Co. asked for a temporary restraining order against MetroLINK, saying the public-transit company wrongly rejected its low bid among four bids to build the garage.
The day after Estes filed for the injunction, the MetroLINK board signed a contract with Bush Construction of Davenport, even though the company’s bid was $837,000 higher than the one submitted by Estes.
Rock Island County Circuit Court Judge Frank Fuhr this week ordered that any action related to the contract between MetroLINK and Bush cease until an evidentiary hearing later this month.
MetroLINK’s attorney, Roger Strandlund of Moline, declined comment Thursday, saying, “It is MetroLINK’s practice to not comment on pending litigation.”
An attorney for Bush Construction was not available Thursday for comment.
Estes president Kent Pilcher said his company’s bid was rejected on a technicality, which he protested.
Because the bus garage is publicly funded, he said, a stipulation was in place requiring bidders to comply with a condition under the Buy American Act. Bidders are to sign a compliance form, indicating their intent to use at least 60 percent American-made products on the build or indicating an inability to do so.
Pilcher said his company declined to check either box on the form, saying it would have been premature to do so.
“Our concern was: How can we certify that at this time?” he said. “Our intent was that we would comply, but we couldn’t do it at that time. There was $9 million to $10 million in special equipment in that project that we rarely see.”
Jim Russell, president of Davenport-based Russell Construction, said his company also bid on the bus garage and suggested the problems were not with Estes’ bid.
“As one of the largest construction companies in the area and one that does many public projects, I can say this was probably the most poorly procured project we’ve ever bid on,” he said. “It led to a lot of confusion.”
He also pointed out taxpayers will be left to make up the difference between the low bid and the Bush bid.
“It’s ludicrous to spend another $837,000 more for a technicality,” he said.
The new garage is to serve as the transit center’s maintenance and dispatching facility, where buses also are stored. The contract for concrete and steel work for the structure was part of a separate bid, which was let earlier this year, a MetroLINK spokeswoman said.