The Battery Park City Authority is repainting the Tribeca Bridge, which crosses West Street near Chambers Street, at a cost of $2.2 million. At the agency’s June 19 board meeting, BPCA vice president for real property Gwen Dawson explained, “the bridge was built in 1992 and has not been repainted since then. It’s now over 25 years old and is in need of some repairs and to be repainted.”
Ms. Dawson continued, “we issued an request for proposals [RFP] earlier this year and received two proposals. The evaluation committee felt that Champion, which is a well-established and experienced contractor that specializes in painting, industrial painting and specialty coatings, was the higher-rated proposer and, again, has the added benefit of being the lower cost of the two, at $2,253,000. We are requesting Authority to enter into a contract with Champion in the amount of $2,253,000 over a 15-month period.”
At this price, painting the bridge will cost slightly more than 50 percent of the original budget to construct the bridge in the early 1990s, although a much smaller fraction of its actual price tag, which eventually topped $10 million. The bridge, which connects directly to Stuyvesant High School, earned architects Skidmore Owings and Merrill an urban design award from the American Institute of Architects in 1997.
At the June 19 board meeting, then-BPCA chair Dennis Mehiel asked, “you had only two responses?”
Ms. Dawson observed that, “we have found that this is a little bit of a ‘tweener’ project. It’s not big enough to really capture the interest of a lot of the big companies, especially when there are a lot of other bridge construction and painting projects going on that give them an opportunity for a lot more work. It’s also something that’s a challenge for some of the smaller companies because it requires a containment system over a state highway, it requires some lane closures, some night work, things that add a lot of complication to the endeavor.”
As a result, the BPCA’s procurement staff conducted direct outreach to contractors, soliciting bids from the two firms that eventually responded to the RFP.
Mr. Mehiel continued, “an extraordinary spread between the two. 100 percent, right? Or 50, depending on which side you’re standing on.” This apparently means that the losing bidder came in at a price of more than $4 million, which would have been approximately equal to the original budget to contract the bridge, and nearly half of its actual cost.
BPCA board member Lester Petracca added, “it’s not possible that — I say this to be funny — that Champion figured one coat and the other one figured two coats of paint?
Ms. Dawson answered, “no, I think we’ve got that covered in the specs.”
Mr. Mehiel pressed, “this company, are they overextended in terms of work, availability to work?”
Ms. Dawson replied, “they are going to come out and do the scaffolding work at night when they could easily do a lane closure and then do the containment work during the day. They have a very tight approach plan created for the project, I think, which allowed them to tighten up their costs.”
When Mr. Mehiel asked for additional comments or questions before calling for a vote on the proposed contract, BPCA board member Catherine McVay Hughes answered, “I just want to say, this is another project that community members had spoken to me about a year ago, and they wanted to see this bridge painted, so this is another critical community project.”
Authority president Benjamin Jones interjected, “it’s worth adding that we took a couple of shots at this procurement and because of issues getting more than one qualified bidder. We weren’t comfortable with it before, until now, with the bidders that we received this time around.”
At the conclusion of the discussion, the BPCA voted to approved the contract. No timeline has been announced for the start of work on repainting the Tribeca Bridge.
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