The Idaho Transportation Board has finished re-interviewing and re-ranking the two bidders who want to oversee the state’s biggest-ever highway project, and once again, Boise-based Washington Group International came out on top.
The board will take a final vote on Jan. 18 to negotiate a contract with WGI and the engineering firm CH2M Hill to oversee the “Connecting Idaho” project, which will be funded with GARVEE bonds, or Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles. Competing bidder Parsons Brinckerhoff, a New York-based firm that’s handled most of the statewide GARVEE programs in the nation, lost out again, but this time, at the end of eight hours of interviews, discussion and scoring at an open board meeting, it wasn’t complaining. “This process was open and fair – I have no complaints at all,” said Jim van Loben Sels, senior vice president for Parsons Brinckerhoff. “We’re disappointed in the outcome, but you win some, some you don’t.”
WGI, a politically active company and strong supporter both of the legislation that authorized the GARVEE program and of Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, was celebrating. “It’s something that we really wanted to do for the state of Idaho,” said President and CEO Stephen Hanks.
The project manager contract is worth up to $5 million a year for 10 years, or $50 million. The “Connecting Idaho” project includes major highway construction all around the state, including major upgrades to U.S. Highway 95.