Raising Hell Over Razing Holly

Two companies cry foul over the city's bid process

Holly Street Power Plant
Holly Street Power Plant (Photo by John Anderson)

Two contracting companies have filed separate complaints accusing the city of disregarding its own criteria in choosing a higher-priced and less-qualified company to demolish the Holly Street Power Plant.

On Tuesday, CST Environmental LP of California filed a lawsuit that seeks to postpone the city's formal approval of the contract until a Travis County court weighs in. City Council is currently scheduled to consider awarding the contract to Connecticut-based TRC Environmental Corp., at its Jan. 13 meeting.

Also on Tuesday, Dixie Demolition of Alabama filed a protest letter with the city seeking public disclosure of the scoring methodology used to move TRC into the top spot by less than a percentage point ahead of Dixie, even though TRC's bid price was several million dollars higher.

"Like the [Bowl Championship Series], there should be a human element to the evaluation," Dixie wrote in its letter. "A computer algorithm may not realize that the best team is being excluded from a BCS bowl game, or that the wrong firm is being excluded from providing the best value to the City."

Both CST and Dixie complained that city staff rejected the "best value" for taxpayers in selecting TRC, whose bid price, at $24.9 million, was the second highest of six bids the city received – $11 million more than CST and $6.1 million more than Dixie. Additionally, CST and Dixie challenged TRC's level of experience in the demolition and remediation of power plant sites.

In its protest letter, filed by Birmingham, Ala., attorney Joe Lassiter, Dixie raised several other arguments about the wisdom of city staff's selection of TRC, a publicly traded company that, according to its annual report, lost $23 million in 2010 and faces a court trial in 2011. The trial, according to TRC's report, involves lawsuits filed by two injured workers and the family of an employee killed at a work site operated by a TRC subcontractor, LVI. LVI is also listed as a subcontractor on its bid for the Holly demolition.

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Holly Street Power Plant, Dixie Demolition, CST Environmental LP, TRC Environmental Corp., City Council

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