Oklahoma City selects more expensive streetcar vendor

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OKLAHOMA CITY - The streetcars for Oklahoma City's MAPS 3 project will come from an American vendor, the city council decided Tuesday, instead of the lower-bidding company from the Czech Republic.

City leaders unanimously voted INEKON out of the blueprints for its proposed four-mile loop downtown because the company failed to meet deadlines to turn in its insurance and bond paperwork.

"It was clear in the request for proposals, over nine months ago, what the requirements were," said David Todd, the MAPS Program Manager. "It has been a long process and this didn't just suddenly come up."

INEKON won the streetcar bid last year, beating out six other companies for the job to provide five modern streetcars at a cost of about $23 million.

The contract was contingent on the company providing proof of insurance and a letter of credit before Oct. 29., which it failed to do.

"I am really personally a little bit disappointed because we feel the behaving of city staff and how our company was treated wasn't so fair, really," said Milan Haloun, an INEKON representative. "There was, let's say, certain misunderstanding in communication with the city staff."

Haloun maintains his company was blindsided by the city, which he says failed to understand how long it would take to get a letter of credit from European banks.

He believed the drafts INEKON provided in July were appropriate and acceptable and even asked for an extension when it found out otherwise.

"City staff just changed the requirements and they asked for different boarding," said Haloun. "So it was for us rather strange that they didn't tell us in July when we presented our drafts and when we have been actually asking for clarification."

The City disputes those claims and Tuesday, the council unanimously voted to award the contract to the Pennsylvania-based Brookville Equipment Corporation, despite added costs estimated at approximately $1.5 million.

"It is an increase over the INEKON contract but I think that in the long run we're going to be thankful that we did it," said Councilman James Greiner, who represents the city's first ward. "Really in the whole grand scheme of things if we're talking $1.3 million in $130 million project, it's a pretty small percentage."

Greiner has been notably opposed to the streetcar project, saying in the past it was not a good use of public money. In fact, the streetcar project was one of the tougher sells for the city.

He still won't say he's excited for the project, but Greiner is happier with the way things are progressing.

"I am less skeptical now because I believe Brookville is a better company," he said. "I think in the long run we are going to be thankful everything worked out the way it's worked out."

Greiner and Todd believe the project will still come in under its $129 million budget.

Todd says he expects the route to be approved next spring. Phase one of the project is scheduled to be completed in 2018.

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