The Herald News, Wednesday, March 29, 2017 – Page A1

By Michael Holtzman
Email: mholtzman@heraldnews.com

Fall River – After three years of study on continuing the next corridor phase of the Davol Street and Route 79 improvements, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation on Feb. 24 opened seven bid proposals of qualifications for 25 percent design of the estimated $68 million project. They announced the seven engineering firms on March 9 following a Herald News public records request. The estimated preliminary design cost is $3 million and awarding the contract is a period of six to 10 months.

When completed, the project would transform the elevated Route 79 into a four-lane urban boulevard at grade level — a modification from a sixlane alternative — recommended by the Federal Highway Administration that’s the principle funding source. The project scope is approximately one mile from the Cove Restaurant north to the Veterans Memorial Bridge and would create 10 acres of developable land for mixed-use projects accessing the Taunton River.

What’s New?
Today, a seven-member evaluation committee, headed by Ammie Rogers, MassDOT project manager, is convening its first meeting at 10 a.m. at the MassDOT District 5 office in Taunton. Along with other MassDOT officials, three committee members from the local area said Tuesday they have read and scored the proposals based upon points criteria MassDOT issued to them.

A general comment: The evaluation committee is meeting to review the seven proposals that were submitted. … I think it’s a good array to pick from. We had seven good proposals.” —William Kenney, Fall River planning director and committee member.

Kenney, Ken Fiola Jr. of the Fall River Office of Economic Development and Lisa Estrela-Pedro of the Southeastern Regional Economic Development District said in phone interviews they had scored the seven firms based upon the MassDOT design criteria format and were prepared to discuss those evaluations with the full committee.

They did not know if any decisions would be made.

Scoring
The RFP shows a scoring system with “Part I” (30 percent of total scoring) for the design team, consultants, key personnel, project experience, understanding the scope of services and several pass/fail criteria.

“Part II,” (70 percent of total scoring) would include 70 points for approach and methodology and 30 points for design controls. The committee would invite up to three of the bidders scoring the highest to make oral presentations that would assist the committee in its evaluations of these two parts.

The process
“There are no bid amounts. It is a qualifications- based selection process,” MassDOT General Counsel Maryellen Lyons wrote by email recently.

Submitting fee for design services: “MassDOT’s evaluation committee for this work will evaluate and rank all prospective consultants determined eligible for the contract to be awarded as a result of this request for proposal,” the RFP says. It also says: “The approved firm will be invited to submit a fee proposal.”

Confidential non-disclosure agreement
Evaluation committee members, Fiola, Kenney and Estrela-Pedro, signed one they confirmed when asked.

A general comment: “We all had to sign confidentiality agreements. It’s never happened to me on a public project. I’ve signed them a lot of times with private developers and clients (such as with the Amazon distribution center project),” Fiola said.

Any explanation given by MassDOT? “No. It just seemed to be a matter of standard practice and I submitted it to them,” Fiola said.