The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has started staged award of a $500-million-plus contract for construction of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway West Closure Complex in southeast Louisiana.

It is expected to be the largest and most complex piece of the Greater New Orleans Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System. Included are extensive flood-wall systems, a 20,000-cu-ft-per-second pump station and two sector gates of about 225 ft and 75 ft in width, all built next to a federally designated “nationally significant” wetland, says Kevin Wagner, Corps senior project manager.

On April 17 Gulf Intracoastal Constructors, New Orleans, a joint venture led by Kiewit Corp., Omaha, and Traylor Bros. Inc., Evansville, Ind., won the $6.97-million “base contract” of a three-part, early contractor involvement award (ECI). The Corps chose the ECI method to fast-track the project and allow early collaboration between designers, the Corps and the contractor.

Under the base contract, the joint venture will provide preconstruction services and pile load tests. When the design is ready, the joint venture has first option to offer a price for the contract’s remaining parts, which involve procuring the pumps and building out the system. “If we can’t come to a negotiated price, we will go another route,” Wagner says. He says the Corps’ intent is to continue with the contractor. The JV will start driving test piles in a few weeks. The Corps expects to award the supply and construction contracts “within the next few months,” Wagner says.

Although the bulk of the work is to finish by June 1, 2011, construction could continue for another year, Wagner says. Also in the joint venture are the New Orleans-area firms of Phylway Construction, LLC, Boh Bros. Construction LLC, Bertucci Contracting Corp. LLC and MR Pittman Group. A video showing how the complex will be built is at