An official with the Maine Department of Transportation says the state agency followed an established process for soliciting proposals related to the proposed east-west highway project, despite some claims that the request was premature.
DOT chief engineer Kenneth Sweeney told the Bangor Daily News that it is common for the department to solicit requests for feasibility studies before a bill authorizing funding for such a study is approved by the Legislature.
The DOT asked four pre-qualified firms to submit feasibility study proposals on the proposed east-west highway in mid-March, nearly a month before the Legislature passed a law calling for the study.
Sweeney said the expedited process was not unusual, and falls within state and federal laws. By choosing pre-qualified firms, the department can eliminate the need to vet bidders, according to Sweeney. He said requests are typically directed at pre-qualified bidders if the project is expected to cost $1 million or less.
The proposed east-west highway, a privately financed project being explored by Cianbro President and CEO Peter Vigue, would establish a 220-mile highway from Calais to Coburn Gore.