The bids are in, three of them, and East Ascension Drainage Commission is scheduled to consider Bridging the Gap Solutions’ offer to construct “New River Channel Improvements” in return for $3,944,300 on Monday. The bid is significantly lower than the $5,000,000 budget to dredge New River while Ascension Parish is set to replace the channel’s weir in-house. Bridging the Gap Solution (bid documents add a non-existent “s” to the company’s former official name) submitted the low bid, 16% lower than Boone Services’ second lowest, $4,698,296.
On July 17, 2020 “Solution” was dropped from the corporate moniker, meaning the bid was submitted under the wrong name. That could invalidate the bid.
A third bidder, OnShore Materials came in at $6,576,590. According to multiple elected officials, all preferring to remain anonymous, a Request for Qualifications process was preferred but legal impediments limited the process to bidding.
Bridging the Gap, LLC is a newcomer to the municipal construction field. In fact, we could find no other job since the company’s November 14, 2019 incorporation. Two members are listed on the Secretary of State’s corporate database for the nascent company, James Moore and Collis Temple, III. At some point, according to Open Corporates database, a third name was added to Bridging the Gap’s membership, Kelly Sills.
Sills’ company, Coastal Bridge, failed to complete “improvements” to Hwy 431’s curve in 2018-19 and was removed from the job by Louisiana DOTD.
Coincidentally, Bridging the Gap’s registered agent for service of process is Moore Law Firm, LLC, a corporate entity formed on October 16, 2019, just in time to be so designated. The firm is “Not In Good Standing for failure to file Annual Report” according to the Secretary of State, which should instill little confidence. Darius Moore, the law firm’s only member, listed a business address at 16034 Acadia Drive, Prairieville which is the same as Bridging the Gap’s member, James Moore.
There’s something to be said for keeping it the family.
James Moore has enjoyed a fruitful business relationship with local governments, to put it mildly. The question is, can his company deliver the goods, i.e. the New River Channel Improvements at a bargain basement price. If so, great. If not, how many change orders is Ascension’s Parish Council prepared to approve in order to make up for an underbid?
The answer should be NONE. It has been something of a tradition in Ascension Parish; attentive companies gaming the system with knowingly undervalued bids secure in the knowledge that a complicit/compliant council would never balk at those price-increasing change orders.
We hope that a new council and presidential administration will hold firm.