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Contractor in Highway Bid Claims Vegas Is Biased Toward Unions

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A rancorous contractor bid dispute has held up a $100-million-plus four-lane widening of Las Vegas’ Interstate 215 Beltway. The contract has been twice awarded and twice taken to court. The Clark County Commission gave locally based Las Vegas Paving Corp. the job after disqualifying the apparent low bidder, Fisher Sand & Gravel Co., Dickinson, N.D., because two of its subcontractors lacked highway construction licenses. Under county rules, the design-bid-build project is typically awarded to the lowest responsible bidder. Fisher’s price was $112.2 million, or $4.6 million less than Las Vegas Paving. On April 22, Fisher sued Clark County over a wrongful contract award, but Clark County again awarded the job to Las Vegas Paving. An Aug. 5 temporary restraining order ensued. Fisher, a nonunion firm, claims a county commission union bias. Las Vegas Paving, a union contractor, countered by unearthing Fisher tax evasion and environmental charges. A federal court judge recently banned commissioners Steve Sisolak and Tom Collins from participating in a third vote on the contract award expected to occur in mid-September.

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