Hartland Township officials are responding to a statewide organization that questioned the recent bid process for a sidewalk project.

In January, the township put out to bid the Hartland Road Pathway Project, which will construct a sidewalk along Hartland Road from near Meijer to Dunham Road, connecting the village to the commercial area. The winning bid came in from Preiss Companies for $200,030. But on April 5th, the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association (MITA), which represents over 500 construction-related companies in Michigan, sent the township a letter expressing concern over the process that led to the winning bid.

MITA accused the township of conducting “unwarranted post-bid, pre-award negotiations that resulted in that bidder being allowed to change a unit price bid after the bids were opened.” The organization said it had “significant concern” as that bidder, Priess, was ultimately awarded the contract and said, “Maintaining the integrity of the bidding process is a high priority for our industry…”

In response, Hartland Township Manager James Wickman says there was never any negotiation once the bids were received, but instead that Priess had made a “sincere” error on a line item for slope restoration, listing it $2,000 per square yard, instead of as a lump sum for all slope restoration. At $2,000 per square yard, the bid would have been in excess of $8 million, or 40 times the final bid amount.

Wickman says when Priess contacted them about the error, officials found it to be credible and allowed them to correct it. He added that, “Preiss was ultimately awarded the contract as both the lowest bidder and best contractor for this project.” The next highest bid was for $305,073. Wickman further said they were disappointed MITA characterized the township’s actions as a negotiation, making clear that was not the case and insisting, “Hartland Township will continue to analyze bids in a fair, unbiased manner.” You’ll find both the letter from MITA and the township’s response below. (JK)