NOAA: Fisheries center to be built despite high bids

Posted: Tuesday, June 18, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- Officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say they are committed to building a fisheries research center here, but are evaluating their options after construction bids came in higher than expected.

''Headquarters is fully committed to the project and it's going to be built,'' said NOAA fisheries program manager John Gorman of Juneau. ''It's just a question of how and when.''

NOAA officials are waiting for Cornerstone Construction of Anchorage, the apparent low bidder, to verify and recalculate its bid before deciding how to proceed.

One option may be to break the construction into phases, but Gorman said the agency isn't ready to provide additional details.

Cornerstone bid $42.5 million on the construction project, according to NOAA. Haskell Corp. of Washington bid $47.1 million, and McGraw Custom Construction of Sitka bid $48.5 million.

NOAA's construction estimate was $36 million.

The 69,000-square-foot fisheries research center will include offices and laboratory space for about 100 National Marine Fisheries Service employees. Many of the people who work at the Fisheries Service's Auke Bay laboratory in Juneau will move there.

Plans called for construction to start this summer and end in 2004.

The city might want to ask for more federal funding for the project in fiscal year 2004, Juneau Mayor Sally Smith said.

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