School board awards $80.6 million Auburn High School construction contract

Groundbreaking on the new $110 million Auburn High School facility is Feb. 24. Work is scheduled to begin the following day. The school is expected to open in fall 2014. - Courtesy rendering/NAC Architecture
Groundbreaking on the new $110 million Auburn High School facility is Feb. 24. Work is scheduled to begin the following day. The school is expected to open in fall 2014.
— image credit: Courtesy rendering/NAC Architecture

The Auburn School Board on Monday awarded the contract to build the new Auburn High School to Lydig Construction, Inc.

Lydig submitted a base bid of $80.3 million but the board incorporated six alternate bids, which brought the total contract to $80.6 million.

"The winning bid came in about 4 percent above the cost estimate, but the school district has a bid contingency of 5 percent to cover that," said Jeff Grose, capital projects director for the school district. "We are well covered in terms of the cost and can still include funds in our budget for change orders."

Superintendent Kip Herren said the new high school, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014, "strengthens our traditions and builds our future."

Groundbreaking on the new high school is Feb. 24. Site work is scheduled to start Feb. 25.

By incorporating the alternate bids, the district covers the costs of the unexpected, for example the possibility that the contractor may have to remove asbestos from the old high school or excavate contaminated soil.

Lydig Construction is a large Northwest contractor with offices in Spokane, Bellevue and Kennewick. In each of the past five years, it has averaged more than $250 million worth of work.

It was was one of four contractors to submit bids, and all of them were within 2 percent of each other.

Board member Ray Vefik recalled that the board had approved a dollar amount Sept. 10 and that had been the amount that the district put out to bid Nov. 28.

"What changed that caused this project to go up by another 4 percent?" Vefik asked.

From preliminary conversations with the contractor, Grose said, site work, demolition and mechanical work may have been higher than what the district had estimated. But to answer Vefik's question, the district would need to compare the contractor's costs with its own cost estimates.

"We need to compare numbers with numbers," Grose said.

Company officials were not present for the contract award Monday, but Grose said its references were "very favorable."

"I have spoken with them, they are very comfortable with their bid, and they are very excited about the project," Grose said.

The district's project, which is eligible for state funds, has received a preliminary allocation of $29 million, $4 million above what the district told voters last fall it had been expecting. Grose said that, also consistent with what the district told voters last fall, the extra $4 million would go into the capital projects fund for future projects.

School district voters approved the $110 million Auburn High School Modernization and Reconstruction Bond with a 62-percent supermajority on the November general election ballot. The difference between the contract just awarded and the total bond amounts represents mostly furnishings and equipment for the high school.

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