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LA Reaches $5M Deal for New Bridge Plans

Thursday, July 30, 2020

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The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LADOTD) has officially signed a deal with engineering firm Atlas Technical Consultants to serve as lead consultant on the new Mississippi River bridge in Baton Rouge.

The finalization comes after months of negotiations in addition to an appeal by one of the companies that was also being considered for the role.

The Selection Process

Atlas, which was created in 2017 by Jim Bernhard’s private equity firm Bernhard Capital Partners, was chosen for the $5 million contract in January by LADOTD Department Secretary Shawn Wilson.

pabradyphoto / Getty Images

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LADOTD) has officially signed a deal with engineering firm Atlas Technical Consultants to serve as lead consultant on the new Mississippi River bridge in Baton Rouge.

Wilson’s decision was appealed by AECOM Technical Services Inc., which argued that the company that got the highest score on the technical survey should’ve been awarded the job. The technical scores were AECOM, 74.01; Michael Baker International, 72.59; and Atlas, 61.98.

That appeal took place on Jan. 21.

In a written decision, Wilson said that he would not be reconsidering his choice and that the technical scores are only one factor in choosing a firm in addition to finances, the views of regional leaders and workload.

"I believe the integrity and trust in our process is evident by the fact that only three selections have been appealed in over four years of billions of dollars in selections," Wilson wrote at the time.

He said that, "after careful consideration, the arguments of the appellant do not warrant the reversal of the selection."

After the decision, AECOM released a statement saying that it respected the final call.

The Contract

The first phase of the contract is worth $3.3 million runs until July 2022. In this phase, the firm is responsible for drafting a purpose and need statement, producing a navigational analysis and doing various traffic models.

After that, Atlas will advise on potential sites for the bridge, though the state and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have already narrowed a list of potential locations that are all south of Baton Rouge.

Though Atlas is the lead consultant, the firm works with several subcontractors including CDM Smith Inc., Franklin Associates, GIS Engineering, INRO Consultants Inc., Neel-Schaffer Inc., Providence Engineering and Environmental Group, FIGG Engineering Group and Shread-Kuyrkendall & Associates Inc.

When pressed on the length of time it took to come to a contract agreement, LADOTD spokesperson Rodney Mallett said that the negotiation process was long, but normal, and not delayed because of the appeal or the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The process is complicated and the Department and consultants met many times to ensure the scope of the contract was comprehensive with detailed tasks,” Mallett said.

Mallett reinforced that the city wanted the consultant on board so that a more formal price tag could be developed and funding can be sources. Right now, the estimate is more than $1 billion.

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Bridges; Contract awards; Engineers; Good Technical Practice; Government; Government contracts; NA; North America; Upcoming projects

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