La Pata Bids Dismissed by Supervisors

Questions about numbers lead to desire for more bids

By Jim Shilander

The Orange County Board of Supervisors has set aside the initial bids for the extension of Avenida La Pata and will reopen the bidding process.

Project manager Harry Persaud told the San Clemente City Council Tuesday that irregularities and errors in the initial bidding, as well as a wide gap between the low bid, of approximately $61 million, and the high bid, a revised $108 million, led supervisors to reject the three bids on the project.

Persaud said to keep the project on schedule to begin construction early next year, the board will open a new set of bids December 10 and potentially award it the same night. The county is also hoping for more bids in total, he told the council.

City leaders had expressed hope when the bids were opened that the low bids might be able to get the project started soon.

Supervisor Pat Bates called the project the most significant transportation development in the fifth district since the widening of the El Toro portion of Interstate 5, and one of the biggest arterial connections since the connection of Golden Lantern in Dana Point to inland areas. Bates said the low bid might also help with the funding gap that still persists for the project. Enough funding is in place to connect the two cities, but not necessarily all of the side projects involved with the proposal.

Councilwoman Lori Donchak, who serves on the board of the Orange County Transit Authority, said there has been a need for years for the project, both to provide a “back door” to San Clemente, and to relieve traffic on I-5.

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