Justice Center moves ahead

Commissioners expected to select construction firm

Dana Strongin
What: Routt County Board of Commissioners hearing about bids to build the new justice centerWhen: 10:25 a.m. todayWhere: Commissioners Hearing Room, Routt County Courthouse Annex, 136 Sixth St.

— Routt County Commissioners are expected today to select the company that will construct the new justice center.

Construction of the center, which will be west of downtown next to the Routt County Sheriff’s Office, has been delayed by a lack of bids for the job. On Monday, commissioners said they were pleased to see the project progress.

The county’s most recent request for bids was in mid-December. Officials identified four qualified companies; one dropped out before the bids opened last week, and the other three participated in the bid process.

FCI Constructors, a company with several offices in Colorado, made the lowest bid at $13,481,700. TCD, which has a Steamboat Springs office, made the second-lowest bid at $13,807,287. The third bidder, at $13,832,750, was the Steamboat-based Holmquist-Lorenz Construction Company.

FCI has been involved in two Colorado justice center projects — Mesa County and Logan County — in the past few years, said Tim Winter, the county’s director of building maintenance.

“They’ve been involved in this type of construction quite recently,” Winter said.

In its 2006 budget, county officials estimated that construction of the justice center would cost about $14 million. However, county officials said at the time that it was uncertain whether increased construction costs would result in a higher price tag.

Commissioner Doug Monger said the lower bids mean the county may have more money for related facility-improvement projects. Those projects, Monger said, include renovating the downtown courthouse and moving the Commiss?–ioners Hearing Room to the third floor.

Commissioners would not say which company they planned to select for the project, but Monger said he was pleased that bidding was competitive.

“We are very happy with the results of the bids and the competitiveness,” Monger said. “We are very excited to move forward and get this completed.”

One reason for Monger’s excitement is that the county has been dealing with the project for a long time.

In 2002, commissioners received a court order to build a new facility by 2006. Commissioners decided in 2003 to build the center west of downtown and to fund the project through certificates of participation, which are similar to bonds but don’t require voter approval.

County officials started 2004 ready to build the center, but a series of setbacks delayed the project. A group called Friends of the Justice Center expressed opposition to the west-end site, promoting a downtown facility instead. Also, the county did not receive — until spring 2005 — a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to fill 1.4 acres of wetlands needed for construction to commence on the west-end site.

In the fall, the county experienced a false start with the selection of a construction company. Only one company indicated interest in the project; the rest dropped out. Winter said the lack of interest could be related to Hurricane Katrina’s effect on construction.

“This (time it) worked out better,” Winter said.

County officials anticipate breaking ground on the center in April and estimate that construction will take about 16 months, with completion set for summer 2007.

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