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Protest Letter Brings Halt to Birds Point Repairs

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Floodwater flows over the Birds Point levee after the Army Corps of Engineers blew a massive hole in it to divert water from the town of Cairo, Illinois May 3, 2011 near Wyatt, Missouri. The diversion flooded about 130,000 acres of Missouri farmland and 100 homes in the state. Heavy rains have left the ground saturated, rivers swollen, and has caused widespread flooding in Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Arkansas.  (Photo: Getty/Scott Olson)

Floodwater flows over the Birds Point levee after the Army Corps of Engineers blew a massive hole in it to divert water from the town of Cairo, Illinois May 3, 2011 near Wyatt, Missouri. The diversion flooded about 130,000 acres of Missouri farmland and 100 homes in the state. Heavy rains have left the ground saturated, rivers swollen, and has caused widespread flooding in Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Arkansas. (Photo: Getty/Scott Olson)

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Repairs to a southwest Missouri levee that was intentionally breached last year have been put on hold after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers received a letter of protest from a company not chosen to do the work.

The corps announced last month that it had awarded $20 million in contracts to three companies: Young’s General Contracting, of Poplar Bluff, Mo.; Kingridge Enterprises Inc., of Little Rock, Ark.; and Harold Coffey Construction Co., of Hickman, Ky.

Corps spokesman Jim Pogue, in the Memphis, Tenn., district, said the companies still were in the process of mobilizing and hadn’t done much work on the levee when they were notified of the protest.

“This is all part of federal contracting law,” Pogue said. “If someone is not the winning bidder on a contract, they have the option to file a bid protest. One of the companies did, in fact, do that.”

The company that filed the protest, Tulsa, Okla.-based A&M Engineering and Environmental Services Inc., declined to discuss the reasons for its objection.

“We haven’t had any response from the Memphis District regarding our protest,” said David Cooper, a company spokesman. “As a professional courtesy we’re going to wait until we see what they have to say” before making a statement.

The corps used explosives to blow the levee last spring in part to keep neighboring Cairo, Ill., from flooding. The tactic lowered the water level on the Mississippi River but inundated 130,000 acres of farmland. Several dozen homes also were flooded.

A lawsuit by more than 140 southeast Missouri farmers whose land was damaged when the levee was breached is pending in federal court.

Pogue said staff members will make a recommendation after reviewing A&M’s protest and bid package. Attorneys with the corps’ Mississippi Valley Division in Vicksburg, Miss., will make a final ruling on the protest.

In the meantime, Pogue said there doesn’t appear to be any imminent danger of flooding where the repairs will be made.

“Right now, the weather and the river are cooperating with us,” he said. “The river is very low and we’re not seeing much precipitation.”

© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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