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Published: Friday, 3/26/2010

Over $3M in contracts awarded by port board

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Toledo Lucas-County Port Authority yesterday awarded more than $3 million in construction and purchase contracts for road and railroad improvements and equipment for port facilities that are covered by federal grants.

The projects include rebuilding the main road to the port authority's general-cargo docks, relocating another road to enable dock expansion, and buying and installing a dry-bulk vessel loading system for the facility.

The port authority's board of directors also accepted a staff recommendation to rebid a contract for materials-handling equipment at the docks for which the agency has received $4 million more in federal funds.

The board deferred action, meanwhile, on a proposal to request a name change for Metcalf Field, the Lake Township airport that was Toledo's first airfield but has been used primarily, if not exclusively, by private and corporate aircraft since Toledo Express Airport's opening 55 years ago.

The port's airport committee had recommended a resolution proposing Toledo Executive Airport as the new name, but during the meeting yesterday, committee chairman Jerry Chabler offered an amendment changing that to Toledo Metcalf Executive Airport. Board chairman Opie Rollison then suggested the matter go back to the airport committee before the full board takes it up, a referral Mr. Chabler accepted.

Diversified Road & Pipe Inc. of Whitehouse was the winning bidder for two of the contracts the port board awarded. The firm is to be paid $867,481.25 to rebuild George Hardy Drive, which connects Tiffin Avenue with the general-cargo docks' main entrance, and $119,830 to build a rail spur into the port-owned Toledo Shipyard.

The George Hardy project will replace pavement that has deteriorated rapidly in recent years; the rail spur will allow shipyard operator Ironhead Marine to ship and receive materials by train.

Miller Brothers Construction of Archbold received a $1,805,432.58 contract to relocate St. Lawrence Drive, which was the general-cargo docks' entrance road before a bridge on Tiffin opened, allowing a nearby railroad crossing on Front Street to be closed.

Both street projects and the rail spur are covered by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act ("stimulus") grants.

The port authority received just one bid for the dry-bulk vessel loading system, and it came in about $18,000 higher than a $350,000 "stimulus" grant the agency received last year for that equipment. Port President Paul Toth said the agency was able to reduce the bid from Process Machinery Inc. of Shelbyville, Ky., to $348,976 by arranging for existing cranes at the Toledo port to be used for unloading and erecting the equipment.

Port staff told the board that of four bids received for the materials-handling contract, two were incomplete and one included "unnecessary substitutions" that did not comply with bid specifications, flaws that made it impossible to compare the bids fairly.

Reed Mahaney, the vice president of RECO Equipment, a Morrison, Ohio-based firm that submitted the highest of the four bids, attended the meeting and said his company's proposal "met or exceeded everything" in the bid specification and questioned the staff recommendation to void all bids just because other bidders "didn't do their homework."

But James Tuschman, a local attorney who also is the regional chief operating officer for steel recycler OmniSource Inc., said that firm has had similar experience with bidding for materials-handling systems, and the port authority has "an important responsibility to make sure what we're looking for is what we get."

Changing Metcalf's name was proposed at the urging of Eric Barnum, owner of Crow Executive Air, which provides airplane fuel and service, flight charters, and other aviation services at the airport.

Mr. Barnum said he has been advocating for a name change for two decades, on the grounds that the airport's current name hinders its marketability to those unfamiliar with the Toledo area.

The word "executive" has been added or inserted in the names of many similar airports across the country, he said, to identify the primacy of corporate aviation at them.

Mr. Chabler, meanwhile, said the particular word "field" in the airport's name has become archaic. "Some may conjure up in their mind a cornfield and a dirt runway," he said.

But while the airport committee chairman said keeping "Metcalf" as part of the airport's name would preserve the recognition of Thomas Metcalf, a local aviation pioneer who was Toledo's aviation commissioner from 1954 until 1960, Mr. Barnum said a four-word name would be too unwieldy.

Metcalf was originally called Toledo Trans-Continental Airport, then renamed Toledo Municipal Airport when Toledo Express opened in 1955. It was renamed in Mr. Metcalf's honor in 1977, and any new name would have to be approved both by Toledo City Council - the city owns the facility - and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



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