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Indiana Officials Reject Bids For Naval Vessel Project

The restored naval vessel has been based in Evansville for more than ten years. (USS LST Ship Memorial)

The initial bids were too costly for a project to move a restored World War II naval vessel to a more prominent location along the Ohio River in Evansville, city officials determined, saying they still hope to receive better offers.

The Port Authority board, which oversees river initiatives for the city, rejected the bids Monday, The Courier & Press reported. The city was prepared to contribute nearly $2.8 million to the project, with the other $1 million coming from other funding sources.

The bids exceeded expectations by up to $1.2 million, said Port Authority Chairman Pat Wathen. The bids were only out for a month, he said.

"We think largely because of the tight timeline we gave them, both in compiling their bids and also to complete the project," Wathen said. "It may have scared away some bidders and may have inflated some of those numbers."

The project would turn the former site of the Tropicana Evansville casino boat into the dock site of the LST 325 troop landing ship. The bids were separated into three sections: mooring the barge, dredging and the construction of the visitor center.

"With the complexity (of the project), I think we just need to give it a little more time to study it deeper and come back with better bids," Wathen said. "We hope we'll attract more bidders, too, by giving them additional time to study this. All of that stuff takes a lot of time and frankly, I don't think we gave them enough time on that."

Darren Moore-Morley, vice president of architecture for Morley and Associates, said construction companies were also busy with other local projects.

"A lot of people decided 'I'm good, I don't have the time for that,'" he said.

The Port Authority plans to re-advertise for new bids, and the design may be changed to save money, Wathen said.

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