RTA Award New HQ Contract

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

August 12, 2020

The Regional Transportation Agency recently awarded a $16.8 million contract to Specialty Const., Inc., to build a new headquarters and bus maintenance facility on Elks Lane in SLO. The rendering here is of the new HQ.

The county transportation agency awarded a contract to build a new headquarters in San Luis Obispo, after the first round of bids were all contested and then thrown out.

The Regional Transportation Agency or RTA board awarded a $16.8 million contract to Specialty Construction, Inc., of SLO to build a new “Bus Maintenance Facility” and agency headquarters on a 6.44-acre parcel the agency owns at 253 Elks Ln., SLO.

That property is part of a larger parcel where the County built the Prado Homeless Services Center fronting Prado Lane. The RTA HQ will front Elks Lane.

The project would build a single-story, 28,650 square foot bus maintenance facility with over 2,600 s.f. of mezzanine/equipment platform. It will house the RTA’s dispatch center and administration offices, too.

It will replace a rented facility the agency currently uses in a building located off South Higuera Street behind Trader Joe’s Market.

RTA’s had a tough go of it getting the $31 million overall project to the construction stage. It’s been trying to build the new HQ for more than 9 years, according to Geoff Straw the RTA executive director.

The agency finally took construction bids last April, with two bidders responding, Specialty and Newton Construction, also of SLO.

Newton’s bid was for $17.2M and Specialty’s bid was $18.3M, but Specialty filed a complaint about Newton’s bid package and after Newton returned the favor, RTA was forced to reject both bids and go out for bids again, on an accelerated schedule.

New bids were revealed on July 8 with three bids coming: Specialty Construction for $16.8M; Newton Const. at $17.2M; and Katch Environmental for $17.5M.

Straw told Estero Bay News that Katch failed to submit additional documents the agency asked for and so they deemed that bid “non-responsive.”

Straw said Katch was third in the bidding and most likely decided not to invest any more time or money into it, for why they didn’t respond to RTA’s requests.

He said they were expecting to get final building permits last week from the City of SLO, which has overseen the entire project through the environmental review, permitting and building phases. Specialty would probably get started on the job this week, Straw added.

The construction contract is for 564 days, and Straw said the schedule calls for “substantial construction” to be completed by the end of December 2021, with RTA planning to occupy the building in January 2022.

Also, as part of the final contracting process, the RTA board approved documents to borrow up to $25M to finance the job. RTA spent over $6M getting to the construction stage.

Specialty Const., is the same company that built Morro Bay’s Harbor Street Firehouse and Straw said they’ve done many public facilities jobs in SLO County.

The RTA is a “joint powers authority” or JPA amongst the County and all seven incorporated cities in SLO County. It runs the South County Transit and the Paso Express bus systems, as well as the RTA buses that crisscross the County multiple times a day and make up the heart of the public transportation system in SLO County.

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