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Granite Construction Gets $4.8M Temecula Bridge Contract

Three City Council members initially opted to abstain from a vote awarding Granite Construction Company a $4.77-million contract to replace the Main Street bridge in Old Town Temecula.

Temecula City Council "reluctantly" awarded Granite Construction Company—against which the city spent "millions" fighting Liberty Quarry—a $4.77-million contract Tuesday night to tear down and replace the Main Street bridge in Old Town Temecula.

The Council was split on its decision to give the work to Granite after spending seven years engaged in a tug of war over the quarry land. The final vote on the bridge contract was 4-1, with Councilman Ron Roberts voting no.

Initially, Roberts, along with councilmen Jeff Comerchero and Chuck Washington, opted to abstain from the vote.

“This is an especially difficult issue for me—I think it is for all of us,” Comerchero said. “But after serving on a subcommittee with [Councilwoman Maryann Edwards] fighting Liberty Quarry for seven years, and Granite Construction being an adversary in that process, you naturally develop certain opinions and theories about who you are dealing with...I have a very difficult time tonight pushing the yes button on this item.”

Comerchero acknowledged Granite was the lowest responsive bidder of nine companies, which under state regulations mandates the Watsonville, CA-based company be awarded the contract.

“So I thought about it a lot and one thing that I’ve found is that, in the policies and procedures of voting as we sit up here on the council, if there are ever times when you feel that you can not be objective, for one reason or another, the correct vote is an abstention. And so that is what I’ll be doing tonight, I will be abstaining from this item on the grounds that I just don’t feel that I can be objective in terms of who the contract is being awarded to," Comerchero said.

Facing a stalemate, council members conferred with Public Works Director Greg Butler and City Attorney Peter Thorson as to what would happen if the city was to rebid the project.

“In cases like these...what flexibility does the city have?” Edwards asked. “Can we just deny something because we might not like someone? Or like someone’s company?”

Thorson said the city’s flexibility was “fairly narrow.”

“The bidder has to be a responsible bidder and it is not just that you like them or that person or that company is capable of doing the job,” Thorson said. “You have to be very specific if you are going to say they’re not.”

Thorson said another issue was that the company receiving the contract had to fulfill state and federal requirements, as 95 percent of the project is being funded by a federal grant.

“There’s probably 40 pages of strings attached that we have to deal with,” Thorson said.

According to Butler, if no decision was made, the bids would expire and the money would go back into a federal pool to be redistributed to any number of projects across the U.S.

“Without starting that invoice for that federal grant the funds become deobligated,” Butler said.

A majority of the council then agreed they had little choice in the matter.

Mayor Mike Naggar pointed out that the bridge is tied to phase 2 of the Murrieta Creek Flood Control Project, which was recently reinvigorated by the Army Corps of Engineers.

“So you are really getting into a conundrum,” Naggar said.

“Nobody wants to award this contract to a company that treated the citizens of Temecula the way that they did. But in all practicality, there is no getting around the process. The bridge has to be built, there’s nothing that is going to prevent Granite from coming back in and being the low bidder again,” Naggar said.

“So short of us saying we don’t want the $4-million grant money—and replacing the Main Street bridge—we really don’t have a lot of options here. But I think that we’ve done what we wanted to do, and that was make a statement that we extremely, extremely reluctantly grant this contract. And if we weren’t compelled by state law, we wouldn’t be granting this contract to this company.”

The project is slated to take 10 months to complete, according to city documents. The contract states that “time is of the essence.”

Edwards voted yes “reluctantly,” saying the bridge, “undermined by the huge rainstorm we had and 2005 and undermined by previous ones,” really needed to be replaced.

“I have had to come to terms with the fact that we would have to work with this company,” Edwards said.

Regardless of the difficult spot Council felt they were put in, Naggar said of benefit were the jobs the project would provide locally.

For Granite, it means many of its local employees will be able to work in the city they call home.

"We have a number of employees who live in the city so they are looking forward to building this bridge in their community," said Gary Johnson, aggregate resource manager for Granite.

The company expects to begin work on the bridge within 60 days, Johnson told Patch Wednesday.

Another local project recently completed by Granite, a nationwide construction conglomerate, was the California Oaks/Interstate 15 Interchange for the city of Murrieta.

The Temecula project calls for tearing out the existing concrete Main Street bridge and rebuilding it with a one-piece, prefabricated steel truss.

"We look forward to building this bridge and continuing to build bridges with the city as we go forward," said Johnson, who did not attend Tuesday's Council meeting.

The new bridge will be adorned with decorative components and lighting that tie in with the Old Town theme, the money for which—about 5 percent of the total cost of the project—will come from development impact fees, according to city officials.

As for the aggregate needed for the job, Johnson said it will need to be trucked in from a San Diego County quarry and one near Corona.

"The area still has a shortage."

Just Another Citizen January 16, 2013 at 03:57 AM
I always check my facts, in EVERY area of life. Even posts and emails are subjected to research in my world. Ironic that in your LONG 26 years of residence and decades of life on this Earth you have become adept in technology usage yet still fail to fully apply it. Accurate, factual information is available at any computer-you need only know how to research effectively. So here I've posted some topics and I'm already wondering what you will read here and decide to pick out while never providing any valid information yourself or addressing a topic directly... Your condescending tone completely invalidates most of your posts. This isn't the 40's old timer, we treat men AND women with respect. Get with the times sir.
Gandhi January 16, 2013 at 06:56 AM
I KNOW what the "official legal process" is for bidding, but how do we know it was followed in this particular instance? Just Another Citizen - none of us are spreading rumors. We do hate Granite though, and with good reason, we're also not fond of what our city council nearly allowed to happen to our community, are you familiar with that little debacle or would you like ME to attached some LINKS for you??? Do you understand WHY we do not like Granite? Then you should shut your mouth if you do and go away, NONE of the citizens in this city like that company for what they were about to do and you can continue to get the last word in here until hell freezes over and it wont change a damn thing! Smart thinking is knowing when to open your mouth and when to keep it shut, an art, you obviously, have not mastered.
Just Another Citizen January 16, 2013 at 02:27 PM
If you are so untrusting of your local government maybe it's time for you leave or run for office. You've been running your mouth all over Patch. I don't care if you like them or not. They are here and they aren't leaving. They've had a quarry there for years now and the air quality in Trmecula has improved since 2008 when it was at its highest. Huh, go figure!! You have a chip on your shoulder. They aren't out to get Temecula. They didn't target this community. The aggregate is where it is, they can't change that. If this was happening in Wildomar or Elsinore you wouldn't give a rats ass what they were doing. Them pushing and pushing is what a thriving business does. Agreed they tried to sway government official on the County Board of Supervisors. That's not right. Lobbyists are doing this across the nation. Your rants aren't changing anything! You should focus your AMPLE time in a more proactive way. I've stepped back from any issues here regarding Granite in the past, but your attacks make me want to show the city support. The difference between you and me is that I know how to act proactively and get involved. My voice will be heard in this local government much easier than yours. You want to smash the cities budget to prove a point? WATCH A POINT GET PROVEN!!
Gandhi January 17, 2013 at 02:00 AM
@Just Another Citizen - if YOU don't like what we are saying, perhaps its time for YOU to leave? You dont even know what the hell you're talkin about! We've had a quarry here for years? Where would that be hon? We do NOT have a quarry here in Temecula. What are you babbling about air quality highest since 2008? NO idea what you're attempting to state here, but I've been here since 1987 and I think you can imagine how clear the air was then, and still is the best quality in Riverside County, no argument there, thats why we didnt want it ruined by the quarry. You think I'm not changing anything? You have no idea honey, so please stop the incessant chattering in our ears, we're getting sick of it. You do NOT know what I have or have not done in this community, you are very good at guessing and assuming, NOT so hot on critical thinking skills as you like to state others are lacking in. You do whatever you want, we will fight you, and we will win, there's more of us, simple logistics. I support whats right, thats who and what I support got that? Please explain your statement "my voice will be heard in this local government much easier than yours"? No idea what the hell that means. Again, you know nothing of me, you do not know what I have or have not done, so please stop assuming you do. Have a nice day hon.
Brenda January 21, 2013 at 07:55 AM
AND, dammit. Pechanga did pay off those dirt digging monsters sitting there waiting for that first min. they could start tearing away sacred burial grounds, our beautiful mountains, hills, and valleys. With no concern to our health, the air quality, the filth on cars and in our homes. The amount of junk that comes out of exhausts on heavy equipment and the machinery alone should be banned from anything within 25 miles. That stuff is worse then dirt. Money used improperly? Oh lets add in the this whole new bus line!!! Talk about a joke and travesty that will not lessen traffic anywhere, or help the people of Southwest County get to work or anywhere else they drive to each day or week. I cant do anything about the Quarry alone, nor this ridiculous bus line(ROFL I cant even imagine it) or how any and all of our Cities and County funds get spent. Yes, ridiculous things. I have put most of my concerns with our people, our homeless, our elderly, our pregnant teenagers and their babies, a loss of a family member fund raiser, or any other good cause, money or things to give to them,the things I can do as one person. To see how many helped with Ms. Wanda's reward/family/funeral, or a young girl who cries over a new crib for her baby, something she didnt think she would get. Foods for whoever is calling out for it. We can always help our neighbors, our residents of Temecula.

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