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$109 Million Tri-Rail Contract Awarded After Challenge

February 24, 2011 - 6:00pm

Clearing a legal challenge, the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority approved a $109 million contract for new Tri-Rail locomotives Friday.

As expected, the contract was awarded to Brookville Equipment Corp. With one dissenting vote, the board of directors approved the purchase of 10 locomotives with an option for 13 more.

The contract was legally contested by a rival bidder, MotivePower Inc., which contended that the bidding process was skewed in Brookville's favor.

The Boise, Idaho-based MotivePower filed a request for a preliminary injunction on Wednesday seeking to halt the award.

But the Broward County circuit court in which the petition was filed said SFRTA could proceed with the contract, said agency spokeswoman Bonnie Arnold.

Messages left with Tim Wesley, MotivePower's corporate spokesman at Wabtec Corp., were not immediately returned.

In its 15-page court filing, MotivePower said it would be "irreparably harmed if the defendants are permitted to execute the contract while this case is pending."

MPI alleged that SFRTA "violated established Florida law governing the letting of public contracts in essentially rewriting a material bidding requirement of its own invitation to bid after bids were received and opened, and then allowed Brookville to materially alter its bid after the bidding deadline, all to MotivePower's detriment."

MotivePower argued, among other things, that Brookville's bid contained "many defects" and that SFRTA "disregarded 'service-proven' requirements."

MPI's legal challenge came in the wake of a flurry of letters from state legislators and the Florida Chamber of Commerce to SFRTA expressing concern about the agency's bidding process. Several chided the agency for allegedly failing to consider long-term "lifecycle" costs, which might favor Brookville's competitors.

MPI and others claimed that the award to Brookville could cost SFRTA an additional $1 million per locomotive in operating costs.

Citing safety issues and prevailing industry practices, SFRTA defended its vetting procedures and announced last October that it was prepared to award the contract to Brookville.

SFRTA has denied any allegations of favoritism, saying it gave interested parties "almost four months to raise any questions or concerns regarding procurement."

The Tri-Rail commuter line -- which serves Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties -- runs annual, multimillion-dollar deficits. The state subsidized Tri-Rail with $34.6 million last year while passenger revenues covered only $10.4 million of the $64 million annual operating budget.

Read more about Tri-Rail's legal dispute here.


Contact Kenric Ward at or at (772) 801-5341.

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