Opa-locka has delayed their highly anticipated multimillion dollar Cairo Lane improvement project.
On Wednesday night, the City Commission postponed its vote to award Intercounty Engineering, a general contractor based in Pompano Beach, a contract to improve the drainage, roadway and sanitary sewer system on Cairo Lane.
The Cairo Lane improvement project is one of Opa-locka’s largest, most comprehensive infrastructure improvement projects. The street is prone to heavy flooding during the rainy season.
Last year, the state awarded the city $40 million as a revolving loan to fix its flooding, pot holes and wastewater issues.
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Commissioner Luis Santiago led the charge to put the project on hold until more information was provided.
“I want all these [documents] reviewed before I make a decision here,” said Commissioner Luis Santiago. “We are the ones that have to decide what company is going to do the job.”
The three bids had been assessed by the city’s Capital Improvement Project (CIP) committee, a select group of engineers and building professionals overseen by City Manager Kelvin Baker.
However, the commissioners did not have the opportunity to review all three bids prior to the meeting.
The companies were evaluated by the CIP and Baker on whether their proposal met the city’s requirements for the construction, price, and local hiring along with other criteria that was set by the committee and approved by the state.
Baker brought that bid proposal to the commission in a resolution Wednesday night. His final recommendation was approved both by the CIP and the state.
Santiago, however, took issue with the city’s selection process since it had been approved before the commission could properly vet the decision.
“We are the ones that have to decide what company is going to do the job,” Santiago said. “We don’t see any other documentation for the bid. We don’t know nothing about that. It’s something that I can’t believe.”
He added that Baker’s supporting documentation on the chosen bid was incomplete and not sufficient enough for him to vote.
“The city will be looking for savings that we need to make all the projects around the the residential area,” Santiago said. “We are the ones that have to decide what company is going to do the job. How can the state is going to make a decision on a company that we don’t even know yet?”
Commissioner Joseph Kelley agreed.
“I have the same kind of concerns when I look at bids, but I also know that the lowest bid is not always the best one,” Kelley said. “But we got to keep in mind because of the way we got much of the funding for these projects, it goes to the state first.”
Since the project cannot move forward without the commission’s approval, Baker said he would provide all of the bid documentation to the commission and would be work with them to clarify any outstanding issues.
They will hold a special meeting on Wednesday to reconsider Baker’s resolution to hire Intercounty Engineering.
If the commission approves it and the project moves forward, the construction would take at least a 10 months to complete.
“We are hopeful that a decision will be made so that the work can commence,” said Assistant City Manager David Chiverton.
Mayor Myra Taylor spoke to the necessity of expediting the improvement process, which has been a major discussion in the city since early last year.
In her State of the City address in January, she used the CIP and $40 million of federal funding from the EPA as one of her successes.
“I have been criticized for not moving the infrastructure project since we got this infrastructure money,” she said. “It’s not being moved in an expeditious manner.”