A quick vote Wednesday officially put the Spokane Street bridge replacement project on hold until next year.

As part of their consent agenda, the Walla Walla City Council decided to reject all bids for the project, opting to rebid it later this year.

Bids were opened May 21 from two contractors, but the contract award was held up when a review of the bids was ordered by the Washington State Department of Transportation.

The WSDOT review was triggered because the two bidders may not have met federal standards requiring a certain amount of their subcontracts be with businesses owned by minorities or women.

According to a memo to the City Council, the review, completed May 31, determined the low bidder had made a good-faith effort in soliciting subcontractors to meet the requirement. But the three week delay made it difficult to assure construction would be complete before fall, leaving the project incomplete through the winter.

Another factor was that both bids were “significantly higher” than the engineer’s estimate of about $1.3 million, the memo said. By incorporating changes to specifications and rebidding at a later date, the project would receive more competitive bids, city staff advised.

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