Fast forward to mid-2008 and the bidding climate appears to be improving for public agencies.
The state Department of Transportation has seen an average of 4.15 bidders on its projects through the end of June. That compares with 3.48 in 2007 and 3.1 in 2006, reportedly a record low year.
“We believe more bidders help maintain a competitive environment and the contractors keep a sharper pencil,” said WSDOT communications director Lloyd Brown.
Sound Transit spokesman Bruce Gray said his agency last Monday held a pre-bid meeting for work to relocate utilities near Husky Stadium in preparation for a light-rail transit station. He said six general contractors and three subcontractors showed up, which they took as a positive sign of interest in the project.
Gray said bread-and-butter projects, such as improvements to Southcenter Boulevard, are generating more interest among contractors while structural projects continue to fail to attract bidders. The Southcenter project got four bids last December, including the low bid of $21.32 million by SCI Infrastructure, which was about 2.5 percent below the engineer’s estimate.
Another bread-and-butter project, for utility relocations on the airport light-rail segment, was opened Wednesday with six bidders. That project’s apparent low bidder, again SCI Infrastructure, was 13 percent below the engineer’s estimate of $914,472.
Emphasis added. Thirteen percent below the original estimate! One of the arguments against ST2 I’ve heard is that construction costs will continue to rise. Maybe not? With the construction industry in trouble, maybe Light Rail expansion will be cheaper than expected!