Fry Creek Pump Station contract awarded

It may have taken a couple of tries, but the first hurdle toward building the North Shore Levee Fry Creek Pump Station Project has been cleared.

The first try to build the Fry Creek Pump Station was nixed after Quigg Bros. Inc. launched a bid protest on May 18, when Rognlin’s Inc. was the lowest responsible bidder. The second attempt was nixed when Rognlin’s Inc. launched a bid protest on Wednesday, July 13, after Quigg Bros. Inc was the lowest responsible bidder.

The two prior protests led to a special Aberdeen City Council meeting on July 20. Quigg Bros. Inc. was chosen with a bid of $17,905,482. Rognlin’s Inc. was the second lowest responsible bidder with $18,539,236.80. The difference between the two bids — $633,754.80 — was 3.5 percent.

Dee Anne Shaw, Public Works Committee Chair, paused the approximate five minute meeting to celebrate the historic moment that the bid authorization for Quigg Bros. Inc. provided the cities of Aberdeen and Hoquiam.

“I just want to take a minute to, I don’t know, relish in the fact that we’re actually doing this, and to comment that it’s been a years-long process, and that it’s the first step to, hopefully, some other projects that will be coming our way,” Shaw said.

Shaw shared how the Fry Creek Pump Station will be able to pump 130,000 gallons per minute out of the west end of Aberdeen.

“(It will) help alleviate chronic flooding for our homeowners in both Aberdeen and Hoquiam,” Shaw said. “This capacity would fill an Olympic pool in five minutes. It could fill 51 bathtubs in one second. It would fill a 2,100 square-foot home — floor to ceiling — in a minute. So, this is a pretty historic thing we’re doing tonight, and I’m just glad we’re all able to come together.”

One longtime Aberdeen resident, Patty Thomas, feels safer already. She shared her thoughts with The Daily World minutes after the Aberdeen City Council voted to approve the nearly $18 million deal with Quigg Bros. Inc. at the meeting.

“I’m really happy about it,” said Thomas, who was born and raised in Aberdeen. “It’s been so many years coming, so many years. I grew up on the west end (of Aberdeen) over there, and my mother had a home there. I can’t tell you how many times she was carried out of her house because of flooding.”

The City Council met, specifically, to vote to award the Fry Creek Pump Station project to Quigg Bros. Inc.

The award was authorized one week after Rognlin’s protested Quigg’s bid proposal on July 13. When the City Council at that meeting found out the news of the protest and the need to remove the agenda item from Shaw, the group looked stunned.

The meeting on July 20 was a much happier one, as the City Council unanimously voted ‘Aye’ in favor of the bid authorization to Quigg.

But, with the bid protests — one on May 18, and one on July 13, it took some work to get here, according to Nick Bird, city engineer for Aberdeen.

“The general process, when you get a bid protest, you want to review the protest thoroughly, completely understand it, then go ahead and conduct your review, and make a fair and impartial decision on how this could be viewed in a variety of different lights,” Bird said. “Not just from municipalities or just from the contractors, but how to look at something holistically.”

Bird said the city follows RCW 39.04.105, which is state law on competitive bidding. Bird said it’s the framework for how contractor bids are done.

“Contractors have specific rates that are outlined in the RCW and we need to make sure that we’re taking those rates seriously … We’re just trying to make sure we don’t create any impressions that it’s an unbiased opinion,” Bird said. “We want to make sure that people understand that we are truly evaluating from all respective angles.”

Rognlin’s Inc. apparently knew for about a week that Quigg Bros. was going to get the Fry Creek Pump Station project. Bird explained what happened.

“After the bid opening (July 7,) it’s pretty common for contractors to request copies of the other contractor’s bid information,” Bird said. “Shortly after the bid was opened, Rognlin’s did provide a request to get a copy of Quigg’s bid, which we promptly turned around.”

Bird said the intent was to validate everything, and make sure everything was squared away with the bids.

“Obviously, when you look at the basis of the number, the apparent low — unless there’s any major problems — you generally award to the apparent low,” Bird said. “And if there is an intention to remove the apparent low, generally us as the municipality are coordinating with the second contractor saying ‘Hey, this is our intention.’”

Bird said the bid process is a “fairly straight process” to follow.

“If everybody does the right things — they check the right boxes, dot the Is and cross the Ts — there’s not really a whole heck of a lot to kind of compare,” Bird said. “At the end of the day you’re just simply looking at that bottom-line figure.”

The latest bids from Rognlin’s Inc. and Quigg Bros. Inc. were reevaluated on Monday, July 11 after the city made sure everything was “square.”

“That’s when our consultant then provided the recommendation of award, and we got rocking and rolling on being ready to award the project,” Bird said.

Shaw had positive comments about both bidding companies on July 21.

“As for the bid challenges,” she said, “in the end, the highly competitive bidding process served the community well. Both of the bidders were highly qualified and really had to sharpen their pencils. We got a competitive price.”

Aberdeen City Council President Kati Kachman commented with her feelings on the brevity of the meeting, the vote to approve the contract for Quigg Bros. Inc., and the levee’s importance to Grays Harbor County.

“I’m happy that the council meeting went as quickly as it did,” Kachman said. “I’m honestly not surprised, and I’m really excited that the council voted to move this forward, because we need to get this project done. As you know, we have time constraints with summer construction season, so it’s great to be able to move it forward and give it to a local contractor.”