Silverleaf Demolition Project delayed as rejected bidder seeks injunction from courts

Silverleaf Street

On December 3, 2020 the City of Gonzales received four bid packets to demolish the structures on Silverleaf Street, a repetitive flooding problem area beyond the city’s (and East Ascension Drainage Commission’s) ability to fix.  The contract was awarded to Concrete Busters of Louisiana when a lower bid from Lathan Construction was rejected as non-responsive.  The project is being held up by Lathan’s lawsuit seeking an injunction, denied by Judge Jason Verdigets at the District Court level, now languishing on appeal.

The City of Gonzales, in concert with Pontchartrain Levee District, has proposed a $12 million project to the Watershed Initiative which envisions a series of detention basins…

Detention basins identified by blue circles. Blue line-Panama Canal; Red line-Bayou Conway; Green line-Boyle Bayou

to “store and manage large quantities of storm-water during intense rain events.”

The proposal was made possible by the acquisition of every property on Silverleaf, parallel to Hwy 30 a few tenths of a mile south, where flooding seemed to occur after every major rain event.  The deal, which required every property owner to sell in return for monies provided through US Department of Agriculture, was completed in September with a stated goal to “return the property to its natural state.”

Of course, none of that matters at all to Lathan Construction, a Bossier City company, which submitted a $595,250 bid to handle the demolition.  Unfortunately, its bid sheet contained a fatal error according to Judge Verdigets’ March 2 ruling which was appealed by Lathan on March 17.  The appellate writ is to Louisiana’s 2nd Circuit, an error by Lathan’s attorney since the 1st Circuit has jurisdiction of appeals from Ascension Parish.  (The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals is located in Shreveport, just across the Red River from Lathan’s home city of Bossier).

Pointed out by Concrete Busters…

Bidder identified as “Willie Lathan” rather than “Lathan Construction”

Lathan’s bid form identified “Willie Lathan” as the bidder instead of “Lathan Construction.”  Seemingly innocuous, Louisiana Bid Law’s rigid requirements are enforced rigidly, especially by the second-place bidders eager to sneak the job away.  There is ample precedent.

Bridging the Gap Solutions seems on the verge of losing the New River Dredging Project even though its $3,944,300 bid was significantly lower than Boone Construction’s $4,698,296.  BTG’s bid got the from Judge Tess Percy Stromberg.  The unforgiveable error committed by Bridging the Gap…its “bid packet was devoid of any written evidence that BTG filed, into the appropriate records, an affidavit, resolution, or other acknowledged authentic document showing that (its representative) was authorized to submit bids for public contracts.”

It is becoming all-too-familiar in Ascension, drainage projects held up by litigation filed by companies without the competence to fill out bid forms as required by state law.  The City of Gonzales, and EA Drainage, share none of the blame for these frustrating delays.

On a positive note, Livingston Parish has agreed to dismiss a lawsuit which has delayed construction of Laurel Ridge Levee extension for nearly three years.  Livingston only agreed to dismiss the spurious suit after Governor John Bel Edwards announced $42 million in funding for a separate project on Hwy 22.