Large National Guard project intrigues Eagle County contractors
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
EAGLE, Colorado – A few years ago, a $35 million construction project would have drawn a little attention. Today, the prospect can put more than 40 people in a room to learn how to get involved.
Representatives from the Colorado National Guard came to Eagle Wednesday to talk to people in the local construction business about building a big new facility for the High Altitude Army Aviation Training Site at the Eagle County Regional Airport. Local contractors were encouraged to bid on the $35 million project, and National Guard representatives say they’re eager to work with local companies.
The National Guard base, known as HAATS, trains helicopter pilots from around the world in the tricks and techniques of flying over and through mountain terrain. Choppers and pilots from the base are also frequently called out to help with mountain rescue operations.
The facility now runs out of an old hangar building. There’s little room for class work, and not much more for maintenance on the base’s small inventory of Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters.
When finished in the spring of 2013, the new facility will have several classroomsand living space for students. The maintenance hangar will be able to hold four of the base’s giant, twin-rotor Chinook helicopters at once.
The Wednesday session gave local contractors a chance to learn about the project before the project plans are posted on a federal website.
Mark Schoenrock, the chief of purchasing and contracting for the Colorado National Guard, said the early notice will give companies a chance to get a jump on all the advance planning they’ll need to do before they submit a proposal for the project.
And there’s a lot of advance planning to do before the proposals are due Sept. 8.
“We’re going to need to understand the federal regulations,” Evans Chaffee Construction Group co-owner Michele Evans said. “Then there’s the whole issue of putting together a team. They’re asking us to come in with three or four subcontractors, and they’re going to have to be able to post a bond for their work.”
General contractors submitting proposals will also have to meet criteria to be “local” companies located no more than a 75-mile drive from the job site. There are also federal “socioeconomic” factors that are considered in the process, and every contractor will have to be registered with at least a couple of agencies.
But there are a few things that won’t be considered. A company that has never worked on a federal project or on an aviation-related building could win the job.
“All we care about is if you’re able to build a building,” Schoenrock said.
Submitting the lowest bid is no guarantee of getting the job, either. Schoenrock said the final selection grade will be weighted, with 60 percent of the consideration based on interviews and the ability to put together a qualified team, and 40 percent based on price.
“We all know that the rock-bottom lowest number is rarely really the rock-bottom lowest number,” National Guard Col. Deborah Roberts said.
After the meeting, the locals in attendance said they appreciated the chance to learn more about how bid for work on the project.
“You rarely get information at this level of detail this early,” said Andy McCord of PCL Construction, a Denver-based company with an office in Edwards.
Mark Keenan, an Eagle resident with a mechanical subcontracting company, said the new National Guard facility is a “great opportunity.”
“And I’m really glad to hear they’re going to use local companies.”
Evans was glad to hear that news, too.
“It’s nice to see them support the locals this way,” she said.
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