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Silver Line contract bids due Friday

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority will find out at 2 p.m. Friday how much it will cost to complete most of the Silver Line.

Authority procurement staff will open sealed bids from five bidders, all contracting groups, made up of large construction firms with different specialties. Airports authority staff have estimated the value of the contract that is now out to bid at $1.4 billion to $1.6 billion, and is set to go to the lowest bidder.

However, said MWAA President and CEO Jack Potter, there will still be a review of the proposal terms and conditions before the contract is awarded in May.

Before submitting a price, the five groups had to go through a technical review process to demonstrate that they have the ability to manage such a complex project.

Rail project executive director Pat Nowakowski said this technical review process will also help prevent cost overruns on the project.

“We will hold them to their technical proposals,” he said.

The meetings during the technical review process allowed MWAA staff to ensure that the teams clearly understood what the contract will entail and gave them an opportunity to edit contract terms, Nowakowski said.

There are also lessons learned from the Phase 1 construction process that helped shape the terms and conditions of the contract for Phase 2, Nowakowski said.

For example, there are no allowance items — portions of the project that MWAA, not its contractor, would take the financial risk on subcontracting. They have also changed the approach to utility relocation, Nowakowski said, because that was an area of cost overruns and delays during Phase 1.

The second phase of the new rail line will include three stations in Reston and Herndon, as well as the Dulles Airport station and two stations in Loudoun County.

The contract includes the track, stations and associated equipment. The authority will later solicit bids for a rail maintenance yard that will be located on airport property, and Fairfax and Loudoun counties will be responsible for constructing parking garages at the new stations.

Union workers from around the region who worked on Phase 1 of the project are hoping that the start of work on the project’s second phase means more work for them.

The Washington DC Building Trades Council is asking the airports authority to consider re-hiring tradesmen who worked on portions of the rail line’s first phase, a project often praised for staying close to on time and on budget and has a good safety record.

“If I’m satisfied with this product, why go somewhere else?” asked Jeffrey Bowers, one of a group of union workers who attended Wednesday’s MWAA Board of Directors meeting to show their interest in the project.

Bowers worked for about two years with the crews building concrete pillars for the first phase of the rail line.

“This is our second child,” Bowers said of the second phase. “We’re hoping that they’ll see that we are a quality workforce.”

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On thursday, MWAA could be seen throwing away all bids but 1.

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