Nevada County awards $1M contract to Penn Valley firm for Loma Rica-Brunswick intersection |

Nevada County awards $1M contract to Penn Valley firm for Loma Rica-Brunswick intersection

The intersection of Loma Rica Drive and Brunswick Road, just outside of Grass Valley, will get a $1 million upgrade as the result of a new contract awarded this week. Keri Brenner photo.
Keri Brenner |

A Penn Valley firm has won a $1 million contract to upgrade the Loma Rica Drive-Brunswick Road intersection, the highest crash site in Nevada County roads jurisdiction.

Koch & Koch Inc. of Penn Valley, the second lowest of five bidders, was awarded the $935,293 contract — plus a 10 percent contingency to total $1.028 million — on Tuesday by Nevada County Board of Supervisors. All of the money for the work will come from a federal grant and development fees.

“Happily, it’s a local business,” said Nevada County Supervisor Nate Beason.

On advice from Steve Castleberry, the Nevada County Public Works director, and county Principal Civil Engineer Joshua Pack, supervisors unanimously approved a resolution to award the job to Koch & Koch and reject the low bidder, Truesdell Corp. of California.

Castleberry said Truesdell, which, despite its name, has its headquarters in Arizona, bid $858,858 — about $80,000 less than Koch & Koch. However, Truesdell did not fulfill any of the minimum 6.84 percent Disadvantaged Business Enterprise quota for the job, while Koch & Koch claimed a 7.42 percent DBE quota.

“Since the project is funded through a federal Highway Safety Improvement Program grant, the county is required to establish a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise goal for the project,” Castleberry said. “Upon investigation, it was concluded that Truesdell had 0 percent DBE participation and did not meet the established DBE goal of 6.84 percent.”

Even if a firm does not meet the total DBE goal, they must still show a “good faith effort” to employ staff or subcontractors that fit the category, he added.

To be certified as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, a firm must be a small business owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals — such as minorities or women, according to the federal Department of Transportation website.

Despite losing the contract, Truesdell will still have a major role in the job as the subcontractor applying a special high-friction road surface to cut down on spin-outs and off-the-road skids on the steep grade at the intersection.

According to Castleberry, the high-friction rock surface, covered with a special polymer coating, is only available in Arizona — and Truesdell is able to provide and apply the product.

“It (high-friction road surface) accounts for 37 percent of the total cost of the project,” Castleberry said.

Pack said the high-friction road surface has reduced accidents by 60 percent to 90 percent in other places it has been used — including the Santa Cruz mountains.

Supervisor Dan Miller said he strongly supported the high-friction road surface application for that intersection, which has been identified as having the highest number of crashes of any county road location.

“After that little dusting of snow that we had (on April 7), that Loma Rica-Brunswick area was an absolute mess,” Miller said. “We’ve got to do something.”

In addition to the special road surface, the upgrades include:

— Traffic signals.

— Longer pockets for cars turning onto Loma Rica so it’s easier to stop and there’s more room to queue up.

— Advance signs on Brunswick for vehicles coming from Colfax before they approach the intersection, warning of stopped cars or slippery conditions.

According to Pack, the intersection, which serves an average 22,000 vehicles per day, had 32 collisions from 2000 to 2011, including 21 injuries and one fatality.

Pack said more than half of the funding for the project — or about $522,000 — comes from the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program grant, while the balance is covered through development fees.

Construction is anticipated to begin in May and be completed within 45 working days, Castleberry said.

To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email or call 530-477-4239.

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