In a press release sent by the Ferries Division of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) on April 3, it was announced that WSDOT is rejecting a $26 million bid from Todd Pacific Shipyards to build a 50-car ferry. At the March 27 bid opening, Todd was the sole project bidder. Its bid was higher than the WSDOT engineer’s estimate of $16.8 million.
After reviewing the bid to understand discrepancies between the two amounts, WSDOT determined that it was too high and decided not to award a contract. One source of a portion of higher costs is state specifications for the vessels have been strengthened since Nichols Brothers constructed the Pierce County-style vessel three years ago, according to Joy Goldenberg, WSDOT Ferries Division Communications Manager. The changes to the specifications include improved safety, security, and quality.
“The tab to taxpayers is too high. We will find solutions to bring down the construction costs,” said Ferries Division Assistant Secretary David Moseley.
The WSDOT engineers plan to talk with representatives of local shipyards about how the bid can be better defined before advertising again for the contract. Changes could include providing incentives to shipyards for completing the vessel ahead of schedule without jeopardizing ferry safety and extending construction time if it would result in cost savings.
“Over the next several days we will incorporate lessons learned from this process into a new bid package,” Moseley said. “We are still moving forward to build the new vessel as quickly as possible, and I’m optimistic a new bid will result in cost savings over the last bid.”
The WSDOT expects to re-bid the 50-car ferry contract in the next few weeks and award a contract by mid-May.