(Laura Simon) [Order this photo]
According to a project update issued Friday by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Memphis District, the bid protest, filed last month by an Oklahoma company, was overruled by the chief counsel of the corps' Mississippi Valley Division.
Carlin Bennett, presiding commissioner of Mississippi County, said it was aggravating to watch weeks of work stalled over the matter.
"The corps felt like they needed to follow their protocols," Bennett said.
"It was very frustrating to lose all that time over basically a paperwork issue the guy had. He didn't do his paperwork right. It was his own fault, but we had to pay the price for it."
Once a protest is filed, federal law requires work to stop until the corps reviews it and reaches a decision. A similar protest filed with the corps for emergency repairs to the levee last fall delayed the project for weeks.
A&M Engineering & Environmental Services of Tulsa, Okla., was protesting the award of $20 million in contracts to three other companies that were ready to begin work to restore the first breach site to a height of 55 feet.
Young's General Contracting of Poplar Bluff, Mo.; Kingridge Enterprises Inc. of Little Rock, Ark.; and Harold Coffey Construction Co. of Hickman, Ky., had already been given a notice from the corps to proceed on the project.
A&M was protesting the type of contract the government selected -- a multiple award task order contract -- and the government's evaluation of its proposal.
A letter was sent Monday asking the contractor to resume working toward rebuilding the levee to a height of 55 feet on the Cairo, Ill., river gauge.
Bennett said farmers in the floodway have endured several delays and will be glad to see the work get started again.
U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson of Cape Girardeau sent the following statement about the development Friday afternoon:
"I'm disappointed that there continues to be delays although I am pleased that we have finally moved past this hurdle. I believe very strongly in holding the corps accountable to their timeline. The private property and livelihoods of hundreds of my constituents rely on flood control to protect their investment in our rural economy."