Designer Scott Shipley said concerns about “constructability” drove a contractor’s higher-than-expected bid for the MAPS 3 whitewater center.
Bids to build the center exceeded expectations when they were opened last month.
Plans call for the center to open in late 2015 or early 2016 on an 11-acre site downstream from the boathouses on the Oklahoma River.
With one of the highest profiles among the MAPS 3 projects, it will offer recreational opportunities for casual paddlers, while at the same time serving as a training and competition venue for Olympic-caliber kayak and canoe athletes.
USA Canoe/Kayak, the national governing body for paddle sports, relocated to Oklahoma City in 2011 and anticipates making the whitewater center its training hub.
The city had estimated construction costs of $23.8 million, but bids from three companies ranged from $37 million to $45.2 million.
Shipley’s firm, S2o Design, won the contract to design the course, and created a 1/12th-scale model as part of the process.
A three-time Olympian and four-time kayak world title holder with degrees in mechanical engineering, Shipley has worked on projects including the 2012 Olympic paddling venue.
No flaws found in bid review
Shipley said the first step in his review was to study the bids from Downey Contracting, Flintco and Crossland Construction for mistakes or oversights.
None of that was found, he said.
Shipley said he then consulted with Downey, the low bidder at just less than $37 million.
Shipley said he learned there was concern about the acreage reserved for the center.
“It’s a very tight site,” he said. “That gave them some heartburn.”
There were worries construction crews could get in each other’s way because of the limited maneuvering space, Shipley said.
Then there was the unique nature of the project.
Shipley said Oklahoma City’s center will be the third of its kind in the United States, after ones in North Carolina and Maryland.
“All the parts and pieces are familiar but the whole is not,” he said. “When you’re worried, you put that risk factor in dollars.”
Shipley said he expects to fly into town for a series of meetings and, based on the contractor’s comments, come up with options.
“Their attitude seems to be, ‘What’s it going to take to figure this out,’” he said.
‘We’re going to figure this out and we’re going to get it done,” Shipley said.
Mike Knopp, executive director of the Boathouse Foundation, said last month about the bid discrepancies, “This is not cause for panic or to think the project is in jeopardy. This is a signature project for the river, and we will find a way that this will be a complete success.”
The city has scheduled special meetings of the MAPS 3 river advisory panel and the MAPS 3 Citizens Advisory Board for next week, when options for the whitewater project are expected to be discussed.