Judge stops construction on Lehigh Valley airport connector amid bidding lawsuit

On the same day President Joe Biden landed at Lehigh Valley International Airport for his visit to Mack Trucks, a Pennsylvania judge ordered construction stopped on the airport’s concourse connector project amid a lawsuit over bidding for the project.

Commonwealth Court President Judge Emerita Mary Hannah Leavitt’s order Wednesday granted an emergency injunction sought by Rick Reinhard, who works for the company that lost the contract bid, IMC Construction, and Anthony Pristash, of Northampton borough.

The pair sued the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority and winning bidder Bracy Construction as taxpayers in Lehigh County Court, but a county judge ruled they lacked standing to challenge the awarded contract.

The pair then appealed the decision to Commonwealth Court, and filed for an emergency injunction while the case is decided. In her order, Leavitt said construction is suspended until Dec. 31 or when the court decides the appeal, whichever comes first.

LNAA, which runs the airport, said it strongly disagrees with the Commonwealth Court’s opinion.

Because of the critical nature of the project for LVIA passengers, the authority is discussing options to move the project forward on an expeditious and cost effective path, spokesman Colin Riccobon said in a prepared statement.

The $29 million terminal connection and security checkpoint expansion will eventually connect the main terminal to the Wilfred M. “Wiley” Post Jr. Concourse above ground and house a bigger TSA checkpoint. Work on the project began earlier this year, and an official groundbreaking was held in May.

Reinhard and Pristash allege the authority violated the conditions set in place for construction bids for the project.

The online bids were due by 4 p.m. Nov. 2, anything submitted after that time would not be accepted, and incorrect bids would need to be withdrawn and resubmitted.

Bracy was the lowest bidder, and IMC was the second lowest bidder. The authority accepted Bracy’s bid.

Bracy’s bid opened after the deadline was $18.6 million, but attorneys said a right-to-know request showed the company submitted a second bid a little under $20 million. Emails showed there was a “human input error” on a single line item in Bracy’s initial bid, and a Bracy representative sought to correct their bid after the 4 p.m. deadline, according to court documents.

By accepting Bracy’s second bid, the authority violated its own, mandatory bid specifications and the state’s bidding law, the pair contend.

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Sarah Cassi may be reached at scassi@lehighvalleylive.com.