FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
By George Andreassi
Originally published 11:52 a.m., August 4, 2009
PORT SALERNO — PORT SALERNO — The Manatee Pocket dredging project is so important it’s worth it for Martin County to spend an extra $873,303 to hire a contractor that could show how it would do the job, said County Engineer Don Donaldson.
Removing silt buildups from the navigational channel is considered crucial for the future of the marinas, boat yards, restaurants and sport and commercial fishing boats that line the protected harbor near the St. Lucie Inlet.
The Martin County Commission awarded an $11 million contract last month to Fort Pierce-based Dickerson Florida to dredge a two-mile long channel in the Manatee Pocket, even though lower bids were submitted by two other companies.
Paul Howard Construction of Greensboro, N.C., bid $10.3 million for the contract, and the tema of Palm City Dredge and Marine and Eddie Huggins Land Grading of Stuart bid $10.1 million.
Palm City Dredge and Marine lodged a formal protest with Martin County in early July questioning Dickerson Florida’s ability to do the job. But Palm City Dredge withdrew the protest after county officials asked for more information about how the company would dredge the channel and how it would dispose of 280,000 cubic yards of sediment.
“The (bid) from Palm City Dredge didn’t even say anything,” Donaldson said. “It just was, ‘We’ll do it. Trust us. Don’t worry about it. Give us the money and we’ll get rid of it.’”
“I don’t want to say that they couldn’t do the job,” Donaldson said. “They may have the capability, but they did not demonstrate it. They didn’t submit the required documents. They didn’t prove to us they could do the job.”
Dickerson Florida’s bid described plans to use two 10-inch hydraulic dredges to suck up the silt, county records show. The dredge slurry will be pumped through a pipeline running from Crooked Creek to a drainage area south of the Stuart Yacht and Country Club, then through several backyards to vacant land on U.S. 1 where the Fountains at Stuart project had been planned.
Dickerson Florida hopes some of the dredged material can be used for the construction of the Indian Street Bridge, county records show. The rest of the dredged material will be disposed of at a landfill approved by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
Jim Schwarz, vice president of Palm City Dredge and Marine, said he’s not complaining about the contract being awarded to Dickerson Florida.
“I think it’s a good thing the county and a good thing for Dickerson,” Schwarz said. “I’m personally good friends with Dickerson. I think everything is going to work out for everybody. I’ve lived here my whole life and whatever is good for Martin County is good for me.”
The bid submitted by Paul Howard Construction was $698,479 lower than Dickerson Florida’s bid, but the county selection team had concerns about the company’s proposal to use experimental technology to remove the water from the dredged material and store the material in the county’s Rocky Point Hammock Park, Donaldson said.
“There were various things in their proposal that were much higher risk,” Donaldson said. “And filling up one of our parks in the middle of Rocky Point would also be a big deal.”
The project is set to start later this month and take nearly a year and a half, county records show.
“In the end, we found that after all the data was synthesized the selection was fairly easy,” Donaldson said. “The qualified bidder that had answered all the questions and had the least potential impact on the citizens of Martin County and get the job done right was Dickerson Florida.”
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