County adds $75 million in projects to fast-track public works campaign
By Victor Cruz
Another $24 million in construction projects and $51 million in design contracts were approved for advertisement this week in Miami-Dade's fast-track program to move contracts that could help fuel the economy.
The county began expediting capital improvement projects Oct. 4 when Mayor Alex Penelas signed an executive order calling a state of emergency. It gave the county manager's office authority to speed contracts for already approved projects.
Last week the mayor's office reported the county had approved for advertisement $272 million in contracts, $121 million for design and $151 million for construction.
Now, those numbers have increased to $172 million in design work and $175 million for construction, officials said.
The announcement came Monday during a county outreach presentation attended by 130 representatives of construction and engineering firms.
Miriam Singer, assistant director of the procurement department, said the county has a six-month window to select capital improvement projects for fast tracking from those already listed on the budget.
She said $100 million in design contracts have "already hit the streets." They include contracts for master consultants for Federal Emergency Management Agency-funded drainage projects throughout the county, drainage design projects, land surveying contracts and cruise terminal improvements.
Another $72 million - $51 million of which was just approved for advertising - will be open for solicitations soon, Ms. Singer said.
No contracts have yet been awarded, she said.
The latest design projects to be approved for bid include $15 million in up to 41 available service agreements for countywide soil, foundation and material testing and $40 million in 20 contracts at $2 million each for engineering construction management services.
The new construction projects approved for advertisement include contracts for about $40 million in construction projects for work on the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center Music Hall, the Carol City Y.E.S. Center, Crandon Park Golf Course Clubhouse, roadway reconstruction and drainage contracts, Miami International Airport North Terminal construction and Port of Miami projects.
The county is also issuing $27 million in miscellaneous construction contracts set aside for county-certified "Community Small Business Enterprise" construction firms involving 122 projects, County Manager Steve Shiver said.
Certified small business enterprise firms are screened for qualifications by the county's business development department to qualify for contracts.
These projects are spread throughout unincorporated Miami-Dade and cover a wide range of construction, from lighting for parks to floor repairs at Metrorail stations.
At Monday's meeting, contractors and engineers asked a range of questions after officials spoke about the newly available contracts and offered guidance in how to access them. Among the biggest concerns was getting further county assistance in the form of deposits, which could help some small firms shoulder initial costs.
Clive R. Bridges, vice president and general manager of Tri- Construction Corp., said having a deposit pool to draw from would make it possible for many more smaller construction firms to qualify for the fast-track projects.
The county is developing an expedited payment program and is putting in place disbursement agents charged with advancing funds to businesses awarded contracts, said Marsha Jackman, director of the department of business development.
Mr. Shiver said the county has stepped up the effective date of its equitable distribution program to Nov. 9. He said it should ensure work orders for miscellaneous architectural and engineering services are equitably distributed using a rotation system based on contracts awarded and payment histories. He said the program is for services and studies not exceeding $25,000 in professional fees and construction costs not exceeding $500,000.
The county manager's office also is introducing several initiatives it says will help maximize the economic benefits of its expedited capital improvement program over the next six months.
To increase the number of firms that can qualify for $347 million in engineering and construction contracts, the county is offering $500 to certified companies that help other firms register successfully, Mr. Shiver said. The county will also provide additional in-house staffing to handle the increased workload in the departments of business and procurement.
In response to concerns about a lack of participation from workers who live in areas where the work is actually being done, a Neighborhood Training Worker Program has been developed, said Roger Hernstadt, coordinator for the county's office of capital construction coordination.
With a $2.5 million allocation, Mr. Shiver said, the program offers funds based on the hourly pay rate of workers that need to be hired from neighborhoods where construction jobs are taking place.
Details: (305) 375-5773.