Governor approves use of Road Maintenance Fund for temporary relief on Airport Road
A temporary fix and quick patch-up of the potholes on the Airport Road stretch has been carried out by McConnell Dowell after Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga granted approval to use money from the Road Maintenance Fund to carry out the work.
A DPW official told Samoa News yesterday that in order to provide some kind of relief and help smooth over complaints from the public about the delay in completing the Airport Road project, the Department of Public Works, per instructions from Gov. Lolo, stepped into their role of maintaining the public highway system by getting McConnell Dowell to do a quick patch-up of the Airport Road, "focusing in on the worst parts, including the problem with dust."
Samoa News understands DPW estimated the quick fix to cost around $72,000 and the money is to come from the Road Maintenance Fund. (The contractor has yet to submit their own cost proposal for the work). According to a DPW official, while Public Works is tasked with maintaining the territory's roads, they were unable to do anything for the Airport Road because of the lack of materials, including a water truck, which is needed to quell the dust problem.
The same source explained that after Whitehorn's contract for the job was terminated, PW had to step in and "do something”. That's when the department and its director felt it was best to carry out a temporary fix until work on the project can resume.
Once Lolo approved the use of money from the Road Maintenance Fund to cover the accrued costs, work commenced. "This was the government's effort to somewhat satisfy the traveling public," the DPW source said. "The government stepped in and did something and that, in itself, should be looked upon as a good thing."
It is not clear when work on the Airport Road Project will resume as there are legal issues that need to be addressed and an approval has to be granted from the Federal Highway Administration — the funding source for the project.
When asked to comment on rumors that McConnell Dowell has requested an additional $2 million to be added on to their initial bid of $11+ million for the project, the DPW official said this is absolutely not true. "No negotiations can be made until everything is finalized and the FHWA office in Hawai’i gives us the okay to move forward. Only then can we move on to the next step, which includes a re-negotiation with McConnell Dowell."
Right now, nothing is being done until FHWA issues the approval to move on to the next bidder, which is McConnell Dowell. The DPW source said in cases like this, the project is usually resubmitted for competitive bidding but in this instance, it wouldn't make a difference, as McConnell Dowell was the second lowest bidder and they are the only other company that can provide the necessary bond and asphalt work.
Meanwhile, Samoa News understands Whitehorn Construction is contesting the termination of their contract, which came about after the company failed to submit a new bond to make up for the initial bond that was discovered to be fake or bogus.
The multi-million-dollar project was awarded to Whitehorn Construction in August 2012, at $7.99 million, which was $4 million less than the only other bidder, McConnell Dowell. Government engineers estimated that the work was going to cost $11.84 million.
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