The Herald News, Monday, April 3, 2017 – Page A6

By Michael Holtzman

Fall River – Three of the seven engineering firms proposing design of the estimated $68 million Route 79/ Davol Street corridor project are being asked to make presentations to an evaluation committee, state officials said.

The evaluation committee overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation held its first meeting on Wednesday at the District 5 office in Taunton.

“MassDOT anticipates notifying three qualifying teams by next week,” spokeswoman Judith Riley said the day after the meeting.

“At that time the teams will be invited to give a presentation to the evaluation committee and then participate in a brief question-and answer period,” Riley wrote in an email in response to questions.

The seven firms MassDOT announced have bid with their qualifications – and that does not include costs – to perform 25 percent of the one-mile expanse were: AECOM, CDR Maguire, Jacobs, McMahon Associates, TranSystems Corp., Vanasse Hangen Brustlin (VHB) Inc. and Weston & Sampson.

The firms include two – Jacobs and VHB – that performed design of the $220 million Route 79/Braga Bridge Improvements design-build project substantially completed within three years last fall. That was more than a half-year ahead of the announced schedule.

One local official said the first evaluation committee meeting to score and review the bids lasted a couple of hours but members are not at liberty to discuss it.

Asked about timing of the evaluation process and selection, Riley wrote, “Please note that the teams will be given approximately five weeks to prepare for this next step in the procurement process.”

She did not list a specific date for those presentations or name the three firms being invited to respond to committee questions. She said the list of firms would be “vetted internally.”

The oral presentation is part of a 70 percent scoring portion on the matrix MassDOT outlined in its RFP.

Ammie Rogers is the MassDOT project manager who is coordinating the evaluation by a seven-person committee. A written request to MassDOT to speak with Rogers about the process and applicants was not responded to.

The next phase of Route 79 construction extends north from the Cove Restaurant to the Veterans Memorial Bridge.

Two conceptual designs under review are for a four-lane and six-lane urban boulevard at road level and incorporating approximately 10 acres of waterfront access along the Taunton River to improve travel and enhance economic development.

Time tables MassDOT listed for a project approved under the state five-year Capital Investment Plan are the 25 percent design award would be within “six to 10 months” and “three to five years” for the project to begin and be completed.

Some local officials have expressed optimism it would be done more quickly.