A Denham Springs contractor on Monday sought to halt the bid process for Livingston Parish’s road overlay program, saying the parish’s bid documents ran afoul of state law and parish codes and contained numerous errors and omissions.
Earl Price, of Richard Price Contracting, said the Parish Council should put the bidding on hold until the errors are corrected, but Parish President Layton Ricks said the road overlay program is moving forward as scheduled. Bids for the work are due Nov. 12.
The parish’s road engineer, Jim Delaune, of Burk-Kleinpeter Inc., said Price’s concerns would be addressed through an addendum to the bid packet that would be sent to all participating contractors.
The contractors met with parish officials Monday morning to ask questions about the bid documents, after which Price sent a 10-page email to Ricks and several council members, detailing his concerns.
Price said the bid documents do not include the state’s required bid form and seek information not allowed at this stage of bidding, including a list of the contractor’s subcontractors and material suppliers. The advertisement for bids itself failed to meet state law requirements for notice of electronic bidding, he said.
The road design plans included in the bid packet also rely on old specifications for asphalt thickness and road bases that the Parish Council overrode in 2009, when parish residents successfully petitioned to improve the parish’s road standards, Price said.
“A lot of people worked too hard to put a stop to the 2-inch asphalt roads, and it would be a slap in their face if the parish goes back to that and we wouldn’t want any part of it,” he said in an email to The Advocate on Monday afternoon.
Price also took issue with some of the roads on the Parish Council’s adopted priority list, saying some appear to serve only a few homes and do not appear to meet standards for acceptance into the parish maintenance system.
“But I realize that next year is an election year and this will be the only roads paved under the new administration but that isn’t any reason to be wasteful and careless with our road fund money,” Price wrote to parish officials.
Ricks said Monday that he believed the parish did everything correctly in its bid process for the overlay work.
“We didn’t reinvent the wheel,” Ricks said. “As far as I know, we did what we always do.”
The parish’s road overlay program has been largely dormant since the 2010 work that sparked a legal dispute between the parish and its former road engineering firm, Alvin Fairburn & Associates, where Ricks worked prior to his taking office in 2012.
The parish and Fairburn are embroiled in a pair of lawsuits over the issue: Fairburn sued the parish in April 2012, claiming it terminated the firm without cause; the parish then sued the firm for alleged overbilling.
Ricks sparked an ongoing battle with the Parish Council immediately after taking office when he paid Fairburn for a disputed $453,000 invoice. The council responded by removing all road work funds from the budget for 2013.
The two branches then fought for months over hiring another engineering firm. Ricks signed the Burk-Kleinpeter contract without council approval. The council, in turn, published its own advertisement for the work, receiving only one response, and again omitted road work funds from the 2014 budget.
A compromise was finally struck in December, when Ricks agreed to publish another request for proposals for the engineering work, then selected Burk-Kleinpeter from among the 10 responding firms. The council approved that choice in February.
Follow Heidi R. Kinchen on Twitter, @HeidiRKinchen.