Rochester’s Big West Side Sewers.
Last week the bids for the big west side sewers were opened by the Rochester (N. Y.) commission. One was presented by the firm of Lee & Minahan of Paterson, N. J. The other was from Shields & Rosenfeld, Rochester. They are the owners of extensive stone quarries in Indiana and Iowa and do a large business as contractors in Western States. Some surprise will doubtless be occasioned by the fact that no one of the several large contracting firms that have done a great deal of work in Rochester, put in a bid on the work. A local contractor, when asked for an explanation of this, said that he supposed it was because the contractors could not get satisfactory assurance that the certificates of indebtedness with which the commission reserves the right to pay for the work will be negotiable. No firm with moderate capital sufficient to carry on business under the usual conditions of payment would care to undertake a contract of such magnitude as the West Side sewer and be compelled to wait until some time after the whole job was completed before receiving any pay.
Several local contractors were present when the bids were opened, and it is understood that some of them would be willing to act as sub-contractors on the job. The bidding sheets were handed over to Engineer Crane, and with the assistance of the clerks in the employ of the commission he soon had the summaries prepared. These show that the bid of Lee & Minahan amounts to $324,688 and that of Shields & Rosenfeld to $325,556, being a difference of only $868. Engineer Crane’s estimate of the cost of the sewer was $386,000.
These figures were announced at a meeting of the commission in the afternoon and created no little astonishment and surprise on the part of the commissioners and contractors as well. It is considered very remarkable that the difference in the total of the two bids should be so slight. One of the gentlemen present remarked that it was a common occurrence for two contractors to get farther apart than that on work amounting to $3000
What renders the approximate coincidence in figures all the more surprising is the fact that the two firms varied widely in the estimates on certain classes of work. One firm was higher than the other on brick masonry, but figured the rock excavation at $36,000 less. On 2000 feet of tunnel the bids differed less than $250.
There is no suspicion of collusion, but the bidding contractors were rallied on that score by the other contractors present. The contract was let to Lee & Minahan, whose headquarters are at Paterson, N. J., and they are one of the largest contracting firms in the country. They state that they will commence the work as soon as the necessary preliminary arrangements can be made.