April 3, 2008
WSF to rebid 50-car ferry
The Ferries Division of the Washington State Department of Transportation announced today that it 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 that state specifications for the vessels have been strengthened since Nichols Brothers constructed the Pierce County-style vessel three years ago. 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.
Construction of the 50-car ferry was originally scheduled to take approximately 12 months and the vessel was expected to begin service in May 2009.
The ferry system is building six new ferries over the next four years. Later this year, WSDOT will begin a separate procurement process for two more vessels that will carry between 60 to 80 cars. The new vessels will replace the retired Steel Electric class ferries and could be in service by June 2010 and December 2010 respectively. New 144-car ferries will be under construction by next year. The three 144-car vessels will be used system-wide. The first 144-car ferry is expected to be in service by early 2011.