A New York State court judge in Albany rejected a Department of Transportation (DOT) requirement of a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) on a highway project on Route 17 in the Town of Wallkill, Orange County. In an Article 78 proceeding, which challenges the determinations of a public administrative agency, a non-union low bidder on the DOT project, who refused to enter into a PLA negotiated by the DOT and made a part of the bid documents, challenged the award which ignored its bid and went to the second bidder at an added cost reported to be $4.5 million. Because the DOT failed to demonstrate that the use of the PLA advanced the interests of the State’s public bidding statutes, the petition was granted. Barring an appeal, which is expected, the DOT will be required to re-bid without the PLA requirement.
Design-Build project delivery has gained ground recently in New York. In a sweeping budget deal last month (December 2011), including provisions restructuring the personal income tax code, New York authorized certain state agencies to utilize design-build for road, bridge and other capital projects in excess of $1.2 million. The agencies benefitting from the deal include the Department of Transportation, Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Presentation and the Department of Environmental Conservation. Awards are to be made on a “best value” basis to bidders from a prequalified list.