Contractors scarce for public projects |

Contractors scarce for public projects

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs correspondentAspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS Government entities appear to be having a tough time attracting contractors.”I think most government entities are having difficulty,” said Robin Millyard, director of public works for Glenwood Springs.It took two tries to draw any interest in the most recent projects.Glenwood Springs opened a bid for eight sewer and water projects in May, estimated to cost about $2.5 million, and didn’t receive a single bid, assistant engineer Steve Vanderleest said.On Thursday, the city reopened the bid for the eight projects and finally saw some action, with two bids. The low bid was $1.7 million, by Martinez Western Constructors, Vanderleest said.”I suspect it’s supply and demand, and there’s just too much work going on right now.” Vanderleest said. “The prices have gone up as well, and the oil industry is taking a lot of pipe work and dirt work.” In November the city put out bids for three of those projects – replacing or updating older infrastructure – and received little or no response. After that, the city combined the projects in the hope of interesting a contractor.”We thought by putting all eight projects together and making one large project, we would be able to get more people interested,” Vanderleest said.Interim parks and recreation director Bruce Munroe said oil and gas companies have generated so much opportunity for work in the area that contractors are “overemployed.””I think it’s development all around the valley,” Vanderleest said.Working for municipalities often involves replacing existing infrastructure, which can be more complicated than starting a new project, Vanderleest said.”Generally, private developers have a little more money to throw at stuff, too,” he added.Larry Dragon, executive director of the Lower Valley Trails Group, said he’s no expert on the issue, but labor shortages seem to be exacerbating the problems in signing up contractors.”They’re already booked. There’s so much construction going on, and they can’t get enough people to do more,” he said. “The cost of labor is so much higher too because they’re paying high wages in the oil and gas development business.

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