HUNTINGTON BEACH : $8.6-Million Bid for New Pier Accepted

The City Council has voted unanimously to accept a low bid of $8.6 million for construction of a new municipal pier.

The old pier is scheduled to be torn down in early September, and construction of the new one is expected to start in November.

The council's acceptance of the low bid late Monday night came amid criticism from unsuccessful bidders for the project who claimed that the low bidder had not acted fairly. The council rejected their criticism and said that the low bidder, Riedel International of Portland, Ore., was a good choice and a dependable firm.

At issue was the city's plan for building a new pier to replace the now-closed, 1914 structure at Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway. The old pier, which has been declared unsafe, has been closed since July, 1988.

After advertising for bids, the city received six proposals, the lowest being Riedel's bid for $8,588,000 and the highest being $13,582,215. City staff officials were delighted by the low bid, since it was below the city engineer's estimate of $11.2 million for the basic cost of the project.

But other bidders charged that Riedel had not complied with all the plans and specifications because the low bidder's proposal calls for precasting some of the concrete sections for the pier. S. Scott McKellar, vice president of General Construction Co. of Long Beach, one of the unsuccessful bidders, protested that precasting concrete violated the plans and specifications for bidding.

In a rebuttal, City Engineer Robert E. Eichblatt told McKellar that the city's bidding plans and specifications were not intended to specify the method of construction.

"Method of construction is the part of the project where the contractor displays his ability to produce a more cost-effective approach than all of his competitors," he said.

Councilman Don MacAllister praised Riedel for finding a way to cut the cost of the project by precasting some pier sections.

"I think it is clever of someone to come up with something like this, and to save $3 million (from the projected cost of the pier) is outstanding," MacAllister said.

Gerald Nelson, president of Riedel, spoke briefly to the council Monday night. He had a brief explanation for his company's successful bid.

"We brainstormed this, and we just beat the hell out of the competition," Nelson said.

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