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Front-runner BCPeabody emerges to complete Hernando dredge project

BROOKSVILLE — A company affiliated with longtime developer and former road builder Gary Grubbs is the front-runner to complete the long-delayed Hernando Beach Channel dredging project.

County staffers today will recommend that the commission hire BCPeabody of Tampa to complete the dredge. The firm is working on the SunWest Harbourtowne project in Hudson on property owned by Grubbs' company. Grubbs' hauling interests and Piedroba Marine Construction will be directly involved with the job.

"We have a contractor, and we have the money to do the job," said county administrator David Hamilton late Monday. The firm has agreed to follow the requirements of a new state permit and finish work by the funding deadline of June 30.

The county got the go-ahead on hiring a contractor Friday when Liberty Mutual, the bonding company for former contractor Orion Dredging Services LLC, notified the county that it would not take over the dredging project.

The bonding company left its legal options open so whether it will pay the county for the undone work is still to be decided.

But budget manager George Zoettlein is recommending that the commission take the funds it needs from the Transportation Trust Fund. When the bonding company pays on the bond, those funds would be replaced.

The price tag by BCPeabody was $8.5 million.

County officials met with officials from BCPeabody and several other firms Monday. Two other companies offered quotes as well.

Orion officials also had sent a letter offering to continue talks; the county responded with a set of conditions. When Orion officials countered, the county declined to meet with them, Hamilton said.

The county last month found Orion in breach of its contract. The firm began dredging the channel late last year but was stopped in January because the dewatering system Orion was using didn't filter enough of the sediment from the dredged spoils.

For months the county, Orion and the county's consultant worked to find a solution. Ultimately state environmental regulators approved a new permit that would require new settling ponds and use of a coagulant.

Orion asked for another $7.8 million on top of the $5 million original bid.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848.1434.

Front-runner BCPeabody emerges to complete Hernando dredge project 10/25/10 [Last modified: Monday, October 25, 2010 10:20pm]
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