Chicago Firm Low Bidder On Iowa Prison Projects

DES MOINES, Iowa — Chicago-based Walsh Construction provisionally won $52 million in Iowa state contracts for a major expansion and renovation project at the state women’s prison in Mitchellville.

The Iowa Department of Administrative Services opened bids from the firms for the general construction package at Mitchellville. Walsh Construction submitted a bid of $46.89 million, the lowest of the six bids. Walsh was also the lowest of three bidders for site preparation work at Mitchellville with a bid of $5.34 million.

Des Moines firm Larsen & Larsen Construction was the second-lowest bidder with a bid of $48.88 million.

The Iowa Department of Administrative Services stated that it will study the bid packages before awarding the projects but confirmed that Walsh Construction was the lowest bidder on both state contracts.

Competition for the Mitchellville project, which is expected to employ 200 to 300 workers, was intense, according to state officials.

The general construction work will commence in the spring with most of the project scheduled for completion by June 2013. The state expects to transfer inmates to the new prison in the fall of 2013.

Walsh also recently won a $116.9 million contract to build a state maximum-security prison at Fort Madison that will employ between 300 and 500 workers.

Both the Fort Madison and Mitchellville projects will be built under project labor agreements negotiated with construction trade unions. Iowa Gov. Chet Culver encouraged the use of project labor agreements but Gov.-elect Terry Branstad has said he will revoke Culver’s executive order requiring them on major state construction projects.