The construction of Phase II of the Silver Line Metrorail to Dulles International Airport, one of the largest public transportation projects in the U.S., will lie in the hands of the contractor team that makes the winning bid to the project's owner, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA).
MWAA will award the contract to the lowest bidder, a procurement process that minimizes a contractor's incentive to produce a superior design. After the airports authority pre-qualified each contractor team and established that their individual design proposals at least met the standards in MWAA's design schematics, lowest price became the only factor in deciding who will win the contract.
The five construction consortiums competing for the Phase II contract represent some of the biggest names in the construction industry: 1) Fluor Enterprises, Tutor Perini, and Stacy and Witbeck, 2) Clark Construction and Kiewit Infrastructure, 3) Archer Western Contractors, PCL Civil Constructors, and Corman Construction, 4) Skanska USA, Granite Construction, G.A. & F.C. Wagman, Trumbull, and Facchina Construction, and 5) Bechtel Infrastructure, which built Phase I of the Silver Line from D.C. to Reston, Va.
MWAA officials say only contractors with a record of building large projects were pre-qualified to compete for Phase II, but records show that some of the contractors executed other major regional projects that were completed significantly over budget and behind schedule. . .
Should taxpayers and Dulles Toll Road users (whose tolls will cover 64 percent of Phase II's costs under MWAA's current financing plan) be worried? Choosing the right contractor may be the most important decision made between now and the Silver Line's targeted completion date in 2018. . .
Some of those "key players" now preparing bids for Phase II were involved in VDOT projects that saw their budgets busted.
Of the 38 aforementioned VDOT contracts that were over budget, seven involved Skanska USA, four involved Archer Western, and one involved Corman Construction, a member of Archer Western's Phase II bid team. Shirley Contracting Co., a subsidiary of Clark Construction, was involved in two of the over budget contracts, according to VDOT records reviewed by WAMU 88.5.
Phase II-bidder Facchina Construction is a subcontractor on the Silver Spring Transit Center, a project $80 million over budget and two years behind schedule, that will need extensive remediation work to fix structural problems involving poured concrete. . . .Click here to read the rest of this article.
This article illustrates the point we made in commenting on DiCaro's first article on the topic that the lowest price bidder is not necessarily the best value for taxpayers and, in this case, toll road users.