East Feliciana road decision upheld on appeal

A state appellate court has upheld action by the East Feliciana Parish Police Jury in awarding a contract to the second-lowest bidder for a road overlaying project.

The project, which calls for resurfacing 13.4 miles of parish roads, has been stalled by a lawsuit since March 15, 2012. The jury received a Hurricane Gustav recovery grant to pay for the work.

Gilchrist Construction Co., of Alexandria, submitted what would have been the low bid of $1,924,081 for work on seven roads, but the bid specifications called for contractors to submit their offers in triplicate.

Gilchrist Construction submitted only a single copy of its bid, and, on the advice of the project engineer, the jury awarded the contract to Coastal Bridge Co. for $1,959,489.

Coastal Bridge submitted three copies of its offer, and the jury deemed it to be the “lowest responsive bidder.”

State 1st Circuit Court of Appeal Judges James E. Kuhn, John T. Pettigrew and J. Michael McDonald, in a ruling issued Thursday, upheld 20th Judicial District Judge William G. Carmichael’s decision in favor of the Police Jury and Coastal Bridge.

Before advising the jury on its next step, Assistant District Attorney Mike Hughes said Friday he will contact Gilchrist’s attorneys to determine if the company plans to ask the state Supreme Court to review the ruling.

Gilchrist amended its original suit against the Police Jury to drop a challenge to Coastal getting the contract but said the Police Jury should have rejected all bids because it violated the state public bid law by not offering a secure method for companies to bid on the job through electronic means.

The judge agreed that the jury was required to offer the electronic bid option, but he said Gilchrist should have sought an injunction to halt the bidding before bids were opened. The appellate court agreed, and also upheld the decision to award the bid to Coastal because Gilchrist did not follow the bid specifications.

The work is scheduled to be done on Turner, McCoy-Byrnes, Old Norwood-Wilson, Beechgrove, Gross and Nesom roads, as well as Williams Drive.