Government / Politics

Supes approve resolutions to reactivate contracts to repair five bridges

Work will begin to repair or replace five county bridges, some of which were supposed to be completed as far back as 20 years ago

The San Benito County Board of Supervisors adopted five resolutions April 11 to move forward with engineering consulting service contracts in order to complete work on five bridges in the county for which repairs were supposed to be completed years ago. According to Supervisor Jerry Muenzer, some of the contracts date back 20 years or more for repairs or replacements.

Rocks Road, Rosa Morada and Union Road bridges were supposed to be replaced. Shore Road and San Felipe Road bridges were scheduled for guardrail replacements. After the recent floods, San Felipe Road bridge may also have to be replaced.

Federal Highway Administration funds were to have paid for all of the projects. All of the consultant contracts have since expired and are no longer in force. According to federal funding guidelines, any further work to be performed that would otherwise have been completed by the previously retained consultants, would normally be completed by consultants selected through a competitive negotiation and would be required to follow federal procurement guidelines. However, federal funding guidelines do allow noncompetitive negotiations in order to procure engineering and design-related services on federal-aid participating projects when it is not feasible to award the contract using competitive negotiations.

According to the county’s Public Works Division, the consulting firms/engineers of record for the projects are still qualified and capable of finishing the construction documents. To begin the competitive negotiation process anew would be disruptive to design continuity and would result in further delays, as well as increased costs, officials said.

Public Works recommended to the board that it adopt Public Interest Findings (PIF) and enter into new sole-source (non-competitive negotiation) contracts with the original consultants for each of the projects. The plans and specifications for the projects are at least 65 percent complete and most of them are 95 percent complete. It was the department's opinion that only the current firms have the base knowledge about the projects’ designs.

Larry Perlin, co-manager of the Resource Management Agency, under which Public Works operates, told the board that by adopting the resolutions they would be reactivating the contracts.

“I don’t know why the work on all of these projects in some point in time just seemed to come to a halt,” he said. “When that happened, the contracts expired. Recently, work has resumed and in order to complete the designs and allow these projects to go to construction, we need to reactive these contracts.”

Perlin said that if the contracts were reactivated, there would be no changes to the terms, meaning the prices and fees would remain as originally negotiated.

“There are no anticipated additional costs,” he said. “It would simply allow the original firms to complete their work. The design work for most of these projects are anywhere from 75 percent to 90 percent complete.”

Caltrans had assured the county that funding would continue to be available and the construction bids would be ready by summer, Perlin said.

Muenzer asked Perlin if the San Felipe Road Bridge mentioned was the same one for which guardrails were replaced with barriers after the recent floods. Perlin wasn’t sure, but Muenzer said he was positive it was.

“Some of these projects are going on 20 years,” Muenzer said. “I’ve been trying to get an agenda item on a report on where we are on all of these bridges. The fact that these contracts have lapsed is unacceptable. I totally support going forward and getting them reinstated. Let’s get some shovels in the ground.”

Muenzer said he also wanted to see a report on the current status of the realignment of John Smith Road.

Louie Valdez, county analyst, said that before Perlin and James Walgren were hired to co-manage the Resource Management Agency after Brent Barnes suddenly retired, Valdez had asked for a spreadsheet to detail the status of all current projects and gave it to the board during its recent retreat. Muenzer said while he appreciated the data, he felt the topic needed to be discussed in open session. He said he realized those in the agency who were originally involved in the projects were most likely no longer with the agency, but he wanted to make sure current staff would stay on top of the projects.

John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a freelance photojournalist with additional experience as a copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter, and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer, having worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John worked as a scriptwriting consultant, and his own script, "God's Club," was produced and released in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime, which are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: [email protected]