KAILUA-KONA — Hawaii County is asking two companies to hold their bid prices for the Lono Kona sewer project until the U.S. Department of Agriculture approves the awarding of a contract.
Bids for the project were opened on March 29 and the deadline to award the project was Friday. However, awarding the contract requires a letter of concurrence from the USDA Rural Utilities Service because federal funds are being used to fund the project, according to Barett Otani, spokesman for the Hawaii County Department of Public Works.
“The County has sent a letter to the bidders requesting that they hold bid prices till the end of July 2018,” Otani said via email late Friday afternoon. “The USDA letter of concurrence for award should be arriving before this date.”
Otani said the letter was sent June 22 to Nan Inc. and Jas. W. Glover Ltd.
One of the two bidders had responded as of Friday afternoon, advising the county that they would hold their bid price as requested. The county was awaiting response from the second bidders, he said.
Nan Inc. and Jas. W. Glover Ltd. were the lone bidders in the second go-round of bidding for the project. The county opted to re-bid the project after four companies responded to the first bid request in January, with bids ranging from $7.7 million to $10.4 million. Hoping for a lower bid, the county put out a second request for bids.
Nan Inc. and Jas. W. Glover Ltd. — responded to the second request, with bids of $8.5 million and $9.6 million, respectively. Isemoto Contracting Co. Ltd., the apparent low bidder the first go-round, didn’t submit a bid the second time.
The county had anticipated bids to be around $5 million to $6 million.
A $4 million U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service Grant is funding the bulk of the project. The Hawaii County Council previously approved authorizing nearly $2 million in general obligation bonds, which will be repaid by property owners hooking up to the system. In April, the County Council approved adding $4 million to the budget by approving county money to make up the difference after the second round of bids were opened.
The project will be built mauka of Kuakini Highway in an area residents have dubbed “Hamburger Hill.” The subdivision dates back to 1962.
Several landowners within Lono Kona received violation notices from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their continued use of large-capacity cesspools. The project area is a higher-density urbanized area where lot sizes generally do not have sufficient area for on-site disposal systems that require leach fields, according to county consultants.
The EPA banned large-capacity cesspools in 1999 and mandated their closure by 2005.
The design and bid process is expected to take at least a year. Officials in March had estimated completion by December 2019. It is unclear what impact the current delay will have on the timeline for completion.
West Hawaii Today reporter Nancy Cook Lauer contributed to this report.