A second round of bids on an underwater cable relocation for the new $6-billion San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge came in much closer to engineers' estimate than the first — much to the relief of the California Dept. of Transportation (Caltrans). Seattle-based Manson Construction Co. submitted on Dec. 21 the low bid of $7 million for a single cable between Oakland and Treasure Island, or $9.7 million for a double-cable configuration.

Caltrans released a re-bid last November for the underwater cable relocation project after a sole bidder, San Francisco-based California Engineering Contractors Inc. (CEC), submitted a bid for $13 million, which is 97% over the original estimate of $6.6 million, according to Caltrans spokesman Bart Ney. In the second round, Caltrans received three bids.

Manson was able to participate in the bid process after Caltrans altered its requirement of 15 years of experience to instead audit construction companies and require a resume of similar experience, qualifications review and project history, according to Ney.

Before making the final award, Caltrans officials must verify that the low bids meet contract specifications. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission must also decide whether to pay for one of two cables. Finally, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission still needs to approve the contract. The approval process will not delay the Bay Bridge construction, added Ney.