U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) today announced that, following the re-opening of the project bidding process on the La Crosse USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center by the Department of Interior, a local contractor, R.J. Jurowski Corporation of Whitehall, Wis., has been awarded the $5.2 million contract for expansion of the science center, funded from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Rep. Kind requested that for fair competition the contract be re-opened to bidding by all interested contractors, including local companies, in March of this year.
"R.J. Jurowski Corporation being awarded the contract will not only create local jobs, but will result in local economic and community growth as the center will be an educational resource to teachers, students, business people and conservationists across Wisconsin," said Rep. Kind. "After personally speaking with Dept. of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, urging him to re-open the bidding process for the project, I am pleased that the process is complete and that groundbreaking will be held soon."
Funded by the Recovery Act, the USGS contracting process was initially opened for bids using a process designed to streamline the bidding method, exempting many interested contractors, an approach not commonly used by the US Geological Survey (USGS) in awarding contracts. When brought to his attention, Congressman Kind urged the Department of Interior to revise the process to ensure local contractors had the opportunity to compete for Recovery Act dollars. Upon investigation, the Department of Interior determined that the process selected for the specific contract was inappropriate and subsequently decided to re-open the bidding process for the La Crosse Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center, allowing local contractors to bid. R.J. Jurowski Corporation of Whitehall, Wis., was recently awarded the contract to construct 24,000 feet of office space, including a geospatial information systems laboratory and a large conference center to bring more science to the community. Groundbreaking will be in mid-July and the project is slated for completion in August 2011.
"This addition to our facility will enable us to better serve our partners, stakeholders and the public by increasing our capacity to address critical natural resource issues, such as control of Asian carp and other invasive species, protection of our threatened wildlife, and management and restoration of the Upper Mississippi River, Great Lakes and other areas across the nation and world," said Michael D. Jawson, Director of the Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center. "For example, the Geospatial Laboratory will increase our capacity to produce decision support models, maps and tools while providing students with experiences addressing real issues and problems. The Conference Center will allow us to communicate our science more effectively to the community, including schools, businesses, other agencies and the public."
Research at the USGS in La Crosse focuses on the Upper Mississippi River from Minneapolis to below St. Louis and the Great Lakes area, and other lands held by Interior. Research has applicability across the nation and world, including:
* Long-term-resource monitoring and ecological research on large rivers
* Restoration of degraded habitats
* Species of management concern including birds, fish, native mussels, and amphibians
* Wildlife ecology and contaminants
* Control of aquatic invasive species such as Asian carp, zebra mussels, and sea lamprey
* Fisheries health
* Applications of remote sensing and geospatial technologies to resource management