2012-03-09 / Front Page

Bids come in over budget

By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer

On March 5, South Portland School Superintendent Suzanne Godin appeared before the city council and board of education to update the council and board about the bids that came in from four New England-based contractors to do the South Portland High School construction/ renovation project.

Bids were opened and reviewed Feb. 23, and Godin said each bid was reviewed individually to make sure the bidding contractor met the requirements, had the funding, and included everything asked for.

Godin said four contractors ended up bidding on the project, Harvey Construction and Eckman Construction both of Bedford, N.H, JCN Construction of Manchester, N.H. and PC Construction, of South Burlington, Vt.

PC Construction, which has an office in Portland, was the low bidder of the project with a $43.24 million base bid. JCN Construction was the high bidder at $46.67 million. Harvey Construction bid $46.56 million for the project and Eckman Construction bid $45.99 million.

Dan Cecil, principal at Harriman and Associates, the architectural and engineering firm designing the school, said he is familiar with PC Construction and worked with the company during the construction/remodeling project at Scarborough High School. The company’s local office, he said, is led by South Portland resident Joe Picoraro.

“PC Construction is a good contractor,” Cecil said. “I think you are lucky to have them (on the job).”

All of the bids, however, were more than $39.25 million, the amount that has been approved for new construction on the project. This means the project’s building committee still has some work to do to refine the project and make cuts to meet the $39.25 million number.

The committee will discuss final cuts, changes and alterations to the plan on March 20 and March 21, before the board of education will vote on the building committee’s recommendations at its meeting on March 22.

Councilor Maxine Beecher said she is cautious about cutting too much from the project.

“We have a history here in South Portland of going cheap and ultimately cheap costs us,” she said.

Nevertheless, she believes the building committee will be able to scale the project back appropriately.

“I have faith you’ll figure it out and do a good job,” she said.

Fellow council member Alan Livingston shares her concern.

“I hope we don’t have to cut so much that this is something we regret later,” he said.

Cecil said one of the ways to reduce the project’s costs is to rethink the project’s phasing to shorten the construction period.

“The longer the construction period, the more it costs to have a contractor there,” he said. “Shortening the construction period would be effective, if we can do it.”

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at 282-4337, ext. 237.

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