St. Louis sewer district finally awards disputed $150 million contract

After nearly a year of delay, the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District finally approved a contractor for a $150 million tunnel project mired in controversy.

Trustees confirmed the award to SAK Construction, of O’Fallon, Mo., in a seemingly routine vote Thursday evening. But the process has been anything but normal.

SAK wasn’t the low bidder. MSD staff first recommended giving the project to a joint venture led by Detroit-based Jay Dee Contractors, whose $145.3 million bid was $2.4 million lower than SAK’s.

That was in September. But SAK argued a subcontractor included in Jay Dee’s package was not qualified because it had been cited for poor work in an MSD small contractor program, and MSD trustees ultimately declined to award the bid. That prompted MSD staff to ask for the subcontractor’s removal, which SAK and some trustees argued was not allowed under district rules.

In a rare rebuke of MSD staff, which still recommended Jay Dee be awarded the contract, trustees deadlocked 3-3 in April. MSD staff then recommended awarding the contract to the next-lowest bidder, local firm SAK.

Jay Dee sued to block the award, but a judge ruled for MSD. It’s unclear whether the firm will appeal.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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