Bidder cries foul over Detroit sewer contract

A massive water and sewer contract now in negotiations - but one company is crying foul over the bidding process.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department's budget meeting was interrupted Wednesday as a 5-year, $400-million system improvement project that had been on the table for contractors to bid on, is now in negotiations with AECOM.

On Wednesday a competing company protested.

"There is clear convincing evidence, there is a problem here," said attorney Jim Case with Detroit Community Infrastructure Partners. "AECOM should not be awarded this contract."

AECOM  is known for its participation in the Wayne County Jail debacle. The jail, estimated to be roughly $100 million over budget - was never fully designed. AECOM and its partner settled with the county for $2.5 million last year.

"That's the same old, same old," said Case. "That the previous boards have had problems with in the past. Where is the money coming from, how do contracts go from $10 million to $50 million. Where is the transparency."

The company losing the bid: Detroit Community Infrastructure Partners or DCIP, a sub-company of Walbridge.  They say, they've got a much better deal by millions of dollars.

On the evaluation committee, the Detroit Building Authority, the Water Department, the Department of Public Works and the Great Lakes Water Authority. And while the water board says, despite being a little more money $1.5 million, not $12.2 million as DCIP claims, AECOM is the most qualified.

While the board swiftly rejects DCIP's protest, they remind everyone they're still negotiating with AECOM and once finalized it's on to city council.

They stress that those who actually worked on the jail -- won't be on this city sewer project.

"Same old same old," said Case to the media. "We're going to change the process, we're going to put out something, we are going to say how it’s going to be done, we are going to put everybody on the same platform - and all of a sudden the platform changes however and whenever they want. It does not seem to me to be right."