Bill granting exceptions to lowest bidder rule on Turnpike Authority projects clears committee

A bill that would free up the N.J. Turnpike Authority from always awarding a project to the lowest bidder was approved in committee Monday.

A1475, sponsored by John Wisniewski, (D-19), Middlesex, would give the Authority discretion to award a contract for “construction of a transportation project on the basis of the bid that is most advantageous to the authority, price and other factors considered.”

Opposition came from construction and trades sectors concerned about the consequences of not having to award work to the lowest bidder, a practice that has been in place to ensure fairness and transparency.

The legislation comes on the heels of an $8 billion capital improvement plan for the state’s  highways.

The bill is designed to save money by allowing the Authority to procure so-called “turn-key” agreement with a single entity that in turn would be responsible for the overall design, construction, and management of a project. Existing law requires the Authority to separately procure each phase of a construction project, which increases administrative costs and often leads to duplication of work.

Wisniewski said this is sort of a test program and it may be expanded in years ahead. He said such programs also are under way in other states whose example New Jersey can learn from.

In other action, the committee approved other bills.

A  bill that would amend current law to allow a person under the age of 16 but at least 13 years of age to operate a power vessel while competing in an authorized race was approved.

Under A3255/S1246, the person would be required to possess a certificate certifying the person’s successful completion of a boat safety course, or in the case of an out-of-state resident or resident of a foreign country, proof of successful completion of a boat safety course. Under the provisions of the bill, the race would have to be sponsored by a duly incorporated yacht club or racing association conducted under the rules of a national boat racing association and held in accordance with rules and regulations prescribed by the New Jersey Boat Regulation Commission in consultation with the Division of State Police. Additionally, the yacht club or racing association would have to receive a permit from the State Police in order to conduct the race, which permit may include limitations on age, vessel type and horsepower.

  Bill granting exceptions to lowest bidder rule on Turnpike Authority projects clears committee