The Franklin County Commission rejected the lowest of three bids for a project to improve the radio communication system for the highway department.
On Tuesday, the commission approved Radio Comm Co. of Washington for the project, which will cost $17,075.
The other two bidders were from A&W Communications of Eolia, $13,959; and Wireless USA of Maryland Heights, $40,068.
Even though Radio Comm Co. did not have the lowest price, it was the best firm for the job, Franklin County Highway Administrator Eva Gadcke said.
Radio Comm Co. was able to guarantee that the antenna for the radio system will be high enough to allow for effective communication, she said.
Radio Comm Co. can guarantee the needed height because it owns the tower, which is in the Krakow area, Gadcke said.
If there had been a huge difference in the price between the company and the lowest bidder, then the county would go with the cheaper one, she said.
But the extra cost was worth it in this case, she said, adding that she thinks Radio Comm offers the county the best value.
The radio system needs to be upgraded because parts of it date back to the 1980s, and highway department workers are unable to hear each other on the system, she said.
Gadcke hopes to move forward with the project as quickly as possible, noting that the tower lease must still be finalized.
The county’s current radio tower antenna site in Union is under 300 feet high, she said, noting that the proposed new location in the Krakow area will be about 480 feet.
As part of the contract, Radio Comm will seek Federal Communications Commission approval of the proposed new tower site, said Vince Zagarri, the county’s interim 911 director.
Zagarri agreed that the proposed new site would greatly improve the highway department’s radio coverage.
Gadcke said she wishes the county had not gone through another winter without the radio system upgrade done, adding that it is vital to have emergency radio communications especially in areas without cell phone service.