A Sacramento Superior Court judge has allowed construction to move forward on a Sacramento regional sewer project after previously halting work and calling the sewer agency’s contract process “troubling” and “misleading.”
Judge Timothy Frawley reversed course last week and decided that Davis-based Teichert Construction could proceed on a $114 million contract to create 110 million gallons of wastewater storage for the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District. Another contractor, Steve P. Rados Inc. of Santa Ana, challenged the award because Rados was the low bidder for the project, submitting a cost estimate $14 million less than Teichert’s.
In his April 3 order, Frawley said the sewer district and Teichert could expect to prevail and removed his previous order suspending the contract. He set a final hearing on the matter for May 11.
Two weeks before, Frawley issued a temporary injunction, finding enough probability that Rados could win the case, in part because of how the sewer district handled the contract. Frawley criticized the sewer district for preapproving a subcontractor that bidders could use and then disqualifying Rados because the district-approved subcontractor did not have a California contracting license when Rados submitted its bid.
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The district board voted 10-4 in February to award the contract to Teichert instead of two lower bidders – Rados and Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Inc. During the meeting, board members in favor of Teichert said Rados failed to list the Peltz Co.’s California license in its contract bid. Peltz, of Alliance, Neb., did not have its state license at the time of the bid but received it the day before the contract was awarded.
Contractors could only chose prequalified contractors, and Teichert chose the only other subcontractor approved by the district for the work.
Rados’ attorney argued at a March 20 hearing that the process created a situation in which only one subcontractor was eligible to work on the project, and thus violated state laws intended to ensure competition. Frawley initially indicated that he agreed with that argument.
But in his April 3 ruling, Frawley said he was convinced after a further review of the evidence that “prequalification and licensing were separate subcontractor requirements,” and the district was likely correct in having “a requirement that that subcontractors be licensed on bid date.”
In a written statement, District Engineer Prabhakar Somavarapu said “the court found that Regional San and Teichert are likely to succeed on the merits of this case and that the balance of harms tips strongly in the favor of allowing construction to proceed. Following the ruling, we directed Teichert to resume work on the project.”
Teichert’s attorney, William Warne, said Thursday he thinks the judge shifted course because he had more time to digest information about the contract.
“Teichert is pleased with the judge’s decision,” he said. “His ruling allows the district to move forward with this project ... and avoid costly delays.”
Rados’ attorney, Mike Minchella, said in an email message that at a hearing last week, “the judge seemed indecisive about the whole matter, but was not convinced enough to restrain the agency and Teichert in the meantime. We’ll have to wait until May 11, 2015, for a full decision.”
Call The Bee’s Brad Branan, (916) 321-1065. Follow him on Twitter @BradB_at_SacBee.