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Wilson Red Line Rehab: CTA Narrows List Down to Five General Contractors

By Adeshina Emmanuel | November 15, 2013 8:49am | Updated on November 15, 2013 8:54am
 The nearly 100-year-old Wilson station will be renovated beginning 2013. 
 The nearly 100-year-old Wilson station will be renovated.
Wilson station rehab
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UPTOWN — The Chicago Transit Authority is close to selecting a general contractor for the estimated $203 million overhaul of the Wilson Red Line station, and has narrowed its choices down to five firms.

The firms are Clark Construction, Walsh Construction, F.H. Paschen, Kiewit Construction and a joint venture of Blinderman Construction and Judlau Contractors. 

The list was first reported by Uptown Update. CTA confirmed the list.

The Wilson rehab has been touted by officials and neighbors alike as a linchpin of revitilization in a blighted part of Uptown suffering from vacant storefronts, vagrancy and crime.

The selection of a contractor had been delayed due to a dispute between CTA and business owners over the placement of station support columns, but a CTA spokeswoman said a contractor would be selected at an upcoming CTA board meeting.

Here's a rundown of the final five firms competing for the Wilson rehab contract:

Clark Construction offered the lowest bid, at $147.5 million.

The Maryland-based firm, as noted by the Washington Post, "has built some of the most prominent structures in and around the nation’s capital" and counts the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture as one of its current projects.

Clark and another Wilson Bidder, Kiewit, are already partners in a nearly $1.2 billion contract with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority to link Dulles Airport to six train stations to be built in Virginia by 2018.

Clark also has a $278 million contract with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to rehab two train lines on the D.C. area's Metro train system. The project is scheduled for completion in 2016.

Walsh Construction produced the second lowest bid, at $157.1 million.

Walsh, a politically connected Chicago-based firm with ties to Rahm Emanuel's predecessor, Mayor Daley, was recently awarded a $43 million contract to work on the Chicago River Walk.

Last month, the CTA chose Walsh to provide engineering, design and pre-construction services for the reconstruction of the 95th Street Red Line terminal and awarded the company a $680,000 contract for its services.

In 2010, the firm completed a $940 million job building Dallas' Dart Light Rail Transit System. More than a decade ago, it was awarded a $25 million contract by Chicago to rehab the Chicago and State underground Red Line station.

Walsh last year paid $6.4 million to settle a lawsuit from a whistleblower who accused the firm of overbilling for the construction of  11 federally subsidized housing developments, according to a Sun-Times report.

Walsh denied overbilling and said it settled the case to avoid "the costs and risks of future litigation." 

F.H. Paschen submitted the third-lowest bid, at $164.8 million.

Chicago-based F.H. Paschen is the general contractor that completed the reconstruction of the Michigan Avenue Bridge, and various Brown Line station restorations and expansion efforts. The firm also renovated the Jackson, Lake and Randolph Red Line stations, and built the Morgan Street 'L' station, a $38 million project. The company is also contracted to put finishing touches on some of the train stations being built as part of the Dulles Airport project in the D.C. area.

Paschen, a favored firm of the Chicago Building Commission, was implicated in a report by Crain's as one of many area firms which, to meet city subcontractor quotas related to minority and women-owned businesses, use minority and women-owned businesses that do little or no work as "pass-through brokers."

Kiewit Construction has the fourth-lowest bid, at $182.35 million.

Kiewit, an employee-owned, Omaha-based company led a $62 million joint venture to reconstruct an O'Hare runway as part of the airport's modernization program, and another joint venture led by the firm was awarded a $1.02 billion contract to design and build an 8.4 mile stretch of a 14.4 mile highway project aimed at widening state highways in Texas between Dallas and Fort Wayne.

Kiewit is also the firm that built "the world's largest indoor desert exhibit, located within the world's largest glazed dome," according to its website.

The fifth lowest bid came from a joint venture of Blinderman Construction and Judlau Contractors, which bid $190.9 million for the project.

Blinderman, awarded a $2.2 million contract, restored the Queen Anne-style 99th Street Metra station, a designated landmark. It renovated a Metra station in suburban Winnetka under a $5.2 million contract which earned it Metra's  "Contractor of the Year" award in 2011.

Blinderman, in a joint venture with Clark Construction, was also awarded a $548 million contract by the U.S. Navy to design and build a naval campus.

Judlau completed a $81.5 million rehab of Columbus Circle Station in New York City, and is currently performing a $176.4 million rehab of that city's 63rd Street Station.

Bloomberg News reported last year that the federal government had accused Judlau and another firm of falsely claiming they paid more than $17 million of $22 million they were supposed to pay to disadvantaged businesses as part of a $447 million project to link the Long Island Railroad to Grand Central Terminal.

CTA spokeswoman Catherine Hosinki said the agency is reviewing the bid submissions and will "propose the awarding of the contract to the contractor with the lowest bid that is also responsive and responsible to the requirements set forth" by the project.

The winning bid will be announced at an upcoming CTA board meeting, Hosinki said.

Click here for previous coverage of the Wilson Red Line Rehab.