High noon for the Kodiak High School renovation project came at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

That was the deadline for construction bids on the $80 million effort, the largest single construction project ever undertaken by the Kodiak Island Borough.

When the electronic envelopes were opened, however, the news wasn’t what the borough had hoped. All three submitted bids were above budgeted estimates.

“The next step is evaluating these and trying to fit them into the budget,” said borough engineering and facilities manager Woody Koning. “It’s obvious that the school board will be making some decisions.”

The lowest bidder was Watterson Construction of Anchorage with a proposal of $61 million. No. 2 was Roger Hickel, also of Anchorage, with a bid of $63.77 million. The highest bidder was Kiewit Building Group, whose home office is in Nebraska. That company’s bid was $64.26 million.

The engineer’s estimate on the cost of construction had been $58.50 million.

All three companies also submitted multimillion-dollar bids on 11 “bid alternatives,” parts of the project that could be excluded if the cost is too high.

Before the bid opening, Koning said the borough intended to include all alternatives in the project, “however, the total amount awarded must not exceed the amount available for construction.”

According to budget documents submitted in August, $61.46 million of the project’s $80 million budget is set aside for construction. That amount is more than Watterson’s base bid, but it had been intended to encompass the 11 bid alternatives as well as the base bid.

Included within the $80 million project budget is $4.3 million in “project contingency,” a catch-all term for funds allocated to cover unforeseen problems in construction or design. Much of that money is as yet unassigned, but using it to pay for construction could leave the borough vulnerable to escalating costs if problems develop in construction.

For now, the question of how to move forward will fall to the Kodiak Island Borough school board, which will consider which — if any — of the 11 bid alternatives to build.

That decision, Koning said, will be based on an examination of school programs and what facilities they need.

After that examination takes place, the school district will make recommendations to the Kodiak Island Borough assembly, which has the final say on the project’s budget.

Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at editor@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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