Cornejo & Sons wins I-135 construction contract

05/09/2014 1:37 PM

05/09/2014 1:39 PM

A Wichita-based construction firm has landed a $20 million contract from the Kansas Department of Transportation to do road maintenance on I-135 in Sedgwick County, the department announced Friday.

Cornejo & Sons beat out two other companies to win the contract. Steve Schwartz, KDOT’s public information officer, said the Wichita firm had offered the lowest bid at $20,051,529.

Schwartz described it as a preservation project, which will stretch from 37th Street North in Wichita to Park City on I-135.

“It gets up to that price because it’s almost 7 miles,” Schwartz said in a phone call. “This would be what we call preservation work.”

He said the project would include road patching, the milling off of about 2 inches of surface, and then the addition of new asphalt over that.

“The work will stabilize the roadbed in spots where it’s needed, create a smooth surface and extend the life of the road,” Schwartz said in a follow-up e-mail.

It will begin this June and is expected to be completed in August 2015.

The project will also include some bridge repair and widening of shoulders, according to Bill Winger, Cornejo’s vice president for construction. Lanes will be closed at times during the project, but not during rush hour, he said.

Winger said the company employs about 500 people, half in construction jobs.

“It’ll be a significant part of our volume for the year. We’re hoping to complete half of it this year and half of it next year,” Winger said on the importance of the contract.

The firm donated to $2,000 to Gov. Sam Brownback’s re-election campaign in August 2013, according to the governor’s campaign finance disclosure form. Hutchinson-based APAC Kansas Inc., which also bid on the contract, donated $1,000.

The third company, Topeka-based Koss Construction, made no donations to the campaign as of December.

Winger said political donations played no role in the company’s bid being chosen. “This is a state contract. KDOT has pretty much a cookbook on how they specify projects,” he said.

Schwartz said a winning bid must meet all of a project’s specifications and be the lowest bid.

APAC’s bid was more than $1 million more than Cornejo’s, and Koss’ was almost $4.7 million more, according to his e-mail.

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