By: Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer
At this week’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors, the Board unanimously awarded Sukut Construction the contract for the La Pata Avenue/Camino Del Rio Extension Project.
“This extension will help relieve congestion by connecting two major thoroughfares,” Supervisor Todd Spitzer said.
The Board voted to throw out the bids for the project on November 19 after the lowest bidder, Papich Construction, requested that their low bid be thrown out due to a Papich mistake.
State law (Public Contracts Code Section 5105) states, “A bidder who claims a mistake or who forfeits his or her bid security shall be prohibited from participating in further bidding on the project on which the mistake was claimed or security forfeited.”
Consequently, Papich was prohibited from bidding in the replacement round of bids. In the new round of bids, California Coastal Development was the low bidder. However, the Board found that Papich was a significant subcontractor in the California Coastal Development bid, as California Coastal Development had never done a project like La Pata while Papich has done this kind of project with great regularity.
Since Papich was participating in the bid, the Board of Supervisors found that the California Coastal Development bid was prohibited by Public Contracts Code Section 5105. The next lowest bidder, Sukut Construction, came in at $72.7 million, which was $5.6 million below the County Engineer’s Estimate of $78.3 million.
Under normal bidding procedures, the County Engineer’s Estimate is sealed, and all bids on a project are submitted sealed. They are then all opened at the same time to ensure no one has an unfair advantage from knowing what other bidders submitted. Without Public Contracts Code Section 5105, a low bidder could claim they made a mistake in the bidding after finding out that other bidders and the County Engineer’s Estimate were much higher and then resubmit a higher bid that could cost taxpayers millions of dollars more.
The 4.1 mile extension of La Pata Avenue between San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano is expected to take two years to build. Additionally, the existing portions of La Pata Avenue between the Ortega Highway and the Prima Deshecha Landfill will be widened from three lanes to five lanes.