In a bid process hit by controversy, the New Orleans Aviation Board has scrapped recent proposals to build a new $546-million terminal at New Orleans' Louis Armstrong International Airport. One of the competing teams has re-formed with a different lineup for the new competition.
The first round of the competition ended with two joint ventures receiving identical scores from the board review committee. The "tie-breaker round" named a joint venture of Parsons Corp. and Odebrecht USA the winner. The competing Hunt Boh Gibbs Metro JV, however, filed a protest, saying a scoring discrepancy unfairly awarded the job to Parsons-Odebrecht. Rather than be mired in protest proceedings, the board decided to scrap the first request for proposals.
Melissa Gibbs, business development manager for Gibbs Construction, said the original Hunt Boh Gibbs Metro JV proposal offered $14 million in construction savings compared to Parsons-Odebrecht's submittal, but two members of the bid review committee gave the rivals equal scores when it came to price. Had those members properly given Hunt Boh Gibbs Metro a higher score on price, Gibbs says, the company would have won the bid. "Even just a one point difference on price would have given us the job," she says.
Ultimately, leaders of the Parsons-Odebrecht JV regrouped with different firms under the brand NOLA Airport Builders. In its new configuration, the venture did not include New Orleans-based Woodward Design+Build, which had been a key member of the team in the first contest for the contract.
During the board's June public comment period on the contract award, a group called Stand With Dignity criticized Woodward for its alleged failure to meet minority hiring goals on past New Orleans public-works projects. An owner of subcontractor Sturdy Built Homes, which had a 2010 contract dispute with Woodward, accused the firm of allowing racist harassment and comments at a jobsite.
During public hearings, the Sturdy Built Homes owner showed the board documents related to its lawsuit. The subcontractor eventually won an arbitration award against Woodward for only its contract claim. Woodward officials could not be reached for comment on the dispute.
NOLA Airport Builders now consists of a joint venture between Odebrecht, Parsons and Royal Engineers & Consultants, a disadvantaged business enterprise, in partnership with local firms, including GOTECH Inc. and The Hale Group.