News From Terre Haute, Indiana

November 22, 2012

Officials vote to advertise job again

Board opened Coke/Carbon cleanup bids too early

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The state of Indiana has pushed back a critical funding deadline, giving Terre Haute the breathing room it needs to pay for a major brownfield site cleanup.

On Wednesday morning, the Board of Sanitary Commissioners opened two additional bids for cleaning up the former Terre Haute Coke and Carbon industrial site at South 13th and Hulman streets. The two bids were lower than bids previously opened for the multi-million-dollar project.

However, the sanitary commissioners voted to reject all bids and re-advertise the job

 By law, two advertisements for bids must be published in the “newspaper of record,” — the Tribune-Star — before final bids are opened and a contract awarded.

In this case, the sanitary board discovered last week that it had opened bids for the Coke and Carbon clean up in a public meeting before a second advertisement had been published. The error was discovered too late, and the submission of two new bids after the original bids were publicly known left the sanitary commission in a quandary. In response, the commissioners voted to reject all bids in order to “create a level playing field” for all potential bidders, said Terry Modesitt, attorney for the Sanitary Commission.

“The state is fairly strict with the [advertising] requirement,” Modesitt told the board in a meeting in City Hall. “Why not just play it safe” and reject all the bids, he advised the board.

The Sanitary Commission, a five-member body appointed by the mayor, has the authority to reject all bids in such a situation, city officials said after the meeting.

Pat Martin, city planner and the guiding force for the past six years on the Coke and Carbon clean up, expressed his thanks for the State of Indiana’s decision to move back its deadline to provide financing for the project. A previous deadline had been this week, he said.

Because state and federal funding is involved, the financing of the clean up  — handled by the Indiana Finance Authority — is complex, Martin said after the meeting. In light of the problem, the finance authority agreed to give the city extra time to meet the deadline to receive money for the project, he said.

The Sanitary Board plans to re-advertise for bids in Friday’s Tribune-Star and again the following Friday, said Chuck Ennis, city engineer and a member of the board. Final bids will be due not later than 10 a.m. Dec. 7 when the new bids will be opened at that time in a public meeting, he said.

The board will then review the bids and award a new contract, city officials said.

The two bids read aloud at Wednesday morning’s meeting were for $2.84 million and $2.79 million. Due to the expense of disposal fees, the entire project is expected to cost about $7 million, city officials have said.

The Coke and Carbon site cleanup will involve removing 80,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil and replacing it with clean soil. The soil is contaminated from decades of coke production at the site. Coke is produced from coal.

The contaminants include benzo(a)pyrene, naphthalene, toluene, arsenic and lead.

Eventually, the city is hoping to transform the site into a location for new manufacturing businesses. It is accessible by rail and by the newly widened South 13th Street corridor and is near Interstate 70, city officials note.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or