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What you need to know for 09/24/2017

DOT seeks more bids for Schenectady train station

DOT seeks more bids for Schenectady train station

The state Department of Transportation will rebid the construct of a new downtown Schenectady railro
DOT seeks more bids for Schenectady train station
The Amtrak train station in Schenectady is pictured in 2014.

The state Department of Transportation will rebid the construct of a new downtown Schenectady railroad station.

The DOT made the decision after a bidding process earlier this month resulted in only a single bid for the project, and it was $10 million higher than the project budget.

The sole $24.9 million bid received from Jersen Construction of Waterford has been rejected, as was expected. DOT hopes to have more competition among contractors in a second round of bids, and that it will lead to a lower price.

There is $14.6 million in federal and state money available for the project, which will replace a deteriorated station used by about 61,000 passengers per year.

“We’re looking to rebid to make it a little more cost effective. We hope to attract a wider range of bidders, and we hope to find ways to reduce project cost,” said DOT spokesman Gary Holmes.

The state is still evaluating how costs might be lowered. The plan is to advertise for bids in July, with the goal of awarding a contract late this year. That would lead to estimated completion in 2018.

“We realize this is a priority for the community, and it is a priority for the state,” Holmes said.

The construction project will include dismantling the current station and constructing a new station on the same footprint. The current station, built in the 1970s, is structurally deteriorated.

During construction, there would also be a requirement for a temporary station to be erected nearby, and the work would include repairs to a concrete viaduct that carries the tracks.

“A lot of the contractors we talked to said there’s a lot of work right now, and a lot of the jobs are less complex than what we have here,” Holmes said.

Since the first bid was received, Schenectady businessman Peter Guidarelli has proposed converting the second floor of his Erie Boulevard building into the new station, with walkways leading to the tracks. DOT officials met with Guidarelli on Wednesday.

“We’ll need some time to review it,” Holmes said.

Leading up to the new round of bidding, Holmes said the state will be reaching out to more contractors in an effort to generate competition. He said the project budget remains unchanged.

The Associated Builders & Contractors Empire State Chapter has called for the state to remove a requirement that contractors work under project labor agreements, which require non-union contractors to pay their workers at unionized rates.

“The failure of NYSDOT to open up competition to all workers and all contractors, regardless of union affiliation, should not be a burden on taxpayers,” chapter President Brian Sampson said in a statement. “The only way to remedy this gross negligence is to re-bid the project without a PLA and allow increased competition to drive down the cost and save taxpayers millions.”

Holmes couldn’t say whether a PLA will remain in the bid specifications.

The design of the new station is inspired by the architecture of the former Union Station, which was built in 1910, in a far grander style than the current station. Union Station was demolished in 1971 to create downtown parking, and the new station was built several years later.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, swilliams@dailygazette.net or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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