Company protest halts Birds Point levee rebuilding
BIRDS POINT, Mo. — Stopped before it even started: the repairs on a Missouri levee are on hold because of a protest.
Just weeks ago, Young General Contracting from Poplar Bluff, Missouri, was awarded the job to repair the Birds Point levee.
You may remember part of the levee was blown up last year.
The decision was made to blast a hole in it to help alleviate flooding in other areas.
As a result, 130,000 acres of farmland was flooded and 50 families were displaced.
The Memphis division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has temporarily rebuilt the levee to 55 feet but that's not its full height.
There is not a bulldozer, a tractor or a dump truck anywhere along the 1500-foot gap in the levee. That's because one of the companies not awarded the bid to fix it has filed a protest letter. By law, no one's allowed at the site until that gets sorted out.
A few stakes in the ground and tire marks in the dirt are the only signs that anyone has been out to the Birds Point levee.
But a letter from A&M Engineering and Environmental has stopped construction in its tracks.
"It's not quite rare but it's not routine either, somewhere in between that broad spectrum," said Jim Pogue with the Army Corps.
Over the phone, David Cooper with A&M acknowledged the protest letter but wouldn't go into details about what part of the bid they had a problem with.
He said they want to give the Corps a chance to respond first.
But members of the Corps said the protest has to do with the type of contract the government issued and the government's evaluation of A&M's proposal.
It could take a while before the dispute gets settled.
"I think it's safe to say the bigger and more complicated the contract, the longer it will take to review," Pogue said. "This is a pretty involved contract, so it's not something that will go real quickly."
The longer it takes, the longer the workers Young Contractors hired will have to wait.
"We are very anxious to get this work done and it's unfortunate that this has happened," Pogue said. "We'll continue to press forward and get this done just as quickly as we can."
Not only does the protest put workers on hold, but it's also delaying getting this levee back up to it's original height of 62.5 feet. That's what more people are worried about because without the levee, all the crops are left unprotected.
The Corps will re-examine the bid and come up with a recommendation that will be sent to legal council for a final decision.