MOUNT DESERT — The Harbor Committee has rejected both bids submitted for reconstruction of two abutments at the Northeast Harbor Marina because they were much higher than the roughly $500,000 that the project was expected to cost.
R.F. Jordan and Sons of Ellsworth submitted the low bid of $872,315. The bid submitted by Gordon Contracting of Sangerville was for $997,459.
“After almost eight weeks of time for bidding, we received only two bids,” engineering consultant Greg Johnston said in an email to Harbormaster John Lemoine. “This is not a good cross section of the market; we hand delivered at least nine [bid] packages.”
The project involves replacing the abutments at the marina’s north and south ramps that provide access to floats. An inspection has shown that the abutments are showing signs of deterioration and are nearing the end of their life expectancy, according to Lemoine.
The bid package described the replacement project as “the demolition of the cantilevered concrete structures, excavation, preparation of base, cast a concrete leveling slab and constructing a reinforced granite abutment with railings.”
The Harbor Committee had chosen to use stone from Buell’s Granite in Franklin for the abutments. R.F. Jordan’s bid included $495,700 for the granite alone – approximately the total anticipated cost of the entire project including labor and all other materials. Gordan priced the granite at $538,805.
An addendum to the bid package stated that contractors could suggest a less expensive type or source of granite.
“Neither of them reached out to any alternate stone suppliers, as we allowed,” Johnston said. “When I asked them why, they said, ‘We just came down to the end and didn’t have time to explore other stone sources.’”
He also said he was “a little disappointed” that neither bidder suggested any other ways to reduce costs.
Johnston suggested that money could be saved by eliminating the requirement for a solid stone abutment and, instead, have only 10 vertical inches of granite on top of a concrete base.
“This would drastically cut stone volume, labor and costs,” he said. “I believe this option could be ‘value engineered’ in as a cost saving alternative through the apparent low bidder.”
Johnston also said, “The north abutment does not have nearly the amount of stone as the south. The south abutment could be replaced using an alternative, such as precast or cast-in-place concrete similar to what exists today. This solution coupled with veneer on the north abutment would reduce costs significantly.”
Harbor Committee member Story Litchfield agreed: “I think it’s nice to have the granite, but I wonder how important that really is. Arriving by boat you would see it, but you wouldn’t see it from the [parking] lot. I think we should be able to find a reduction either in the style of the granite or the style of cut or reducing the use of granite.”
Harbor Committee member Chris Moore said, “I think we are partly to blame for rushing the project and not looking at other alternatives for material sources. We went for aesthetics; we basically went with the most expensive way.
“It would be pretty irresponsible, I think, to spend twice what our engineer told us we should be spending.”
The Harbor Committee voted to ask Johnston to come back to them with specific recommendations for reducing the cost of the abutment replacement project, which is scheduled to start March 15.