Interim Town Manager Ann Vandal speaks at Tuesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting about the need for special counsel to review procurement practices. (SUN/Meg McIntyre)

DRACUT — After several rounds of bidding, Dracut has finally selected a contractor to build a new fire station on Nashua Road.

The town’s Permanent Building Committee voted to select Harvard-based contractor L.D. Russo Inc. for the job, according to Interim Town Manager Ann Vandal. The company was the second-lowest bidder in the latest round of proposals, she said.

“It’s kind of exciting I think to be able to continue to move forward and get this thing off the ground,” Vandal said. “It’s been a long time coming.”

Construction on the new station was originally expected to begin in spring 2019, but was delayed when initial bids came in over budget. Subsequent rounds of bidding also produced high responses, leading officials to ask residents for more funding for the project.

At fall Town Meeting last month, voters OK’d an additional $1.5 million for the new station. That brings the total project budget to $6.5 million after voters authorized a $4 million debt exclusion in September 2018 and an additional $1 million from the general fund at the November 2018 Town Meeting.

L.D. Russo’s base bid for the new station, which will replace Dracut Fire Station 3 on Lakeview Avenue, was $4,769,500, according to a document provided by the town, with the company’s maximum bid with alternates at $5,321,322. The town will also incur costs for the architect and project manager, according to Vandal, which total more than $720,000.

Vandal said that to her knowledge, this is the first time the town has worked with this contractor.

Selectman Joseph DiRocco, Jr. said it’s too bad the costs for this type of project have gone up so much since he was the town’s fire chief, but it’s good that the project is finally advancing. Vandal and other officials have attributed the high bids to rising costs for materials, as well as increases in the state’s prevailing wage rates for construction projects.

“It’s disappointing, but there’s not much you can do,” said DiRocco, the town’s former fire chief. “It needs to get done and that’s about it.”

The station set to be replaced, known as the Collinsville Fire Station, is the busiest in town, according to figures from 2017. Those numbers show that firefighters from the station responded to 1,986 of the 4,026 calls that year. In the past, officials have said that the building, which dates to the 1950s, doesn’t have adequate space for living quarters and necessary equipment.

“I’m very happy to see the project moving forward,” Selectman Alison Hughes said Tuesday. “This has been a long time coming and it will help our first responders better serve the town of Dracut.”

In a text message, Selectman Tami Dristiliaris noted that L.D. Russo was not the lowest bidder for the project. North Reading-based company B.C. Construction Co. Inc. submitted a base bid of $4,700,314, with the maximum with alternates at $5,291,471, according to town documents.

“I hope that the selection was made following all applicable state laws. In accordance with the laws, the lowest bidder can be disqualified if certain parameters are not met,” Dristiliaris wrote. “Looking forward to getting this project underway.”

Town procurement procedures have been under scrutiny recently after Attorney General Maura Healey began reviewing a recent project to build a security fence around the Dracut police headquarters.

Former Town Manager Jim Duggan resigned in October amid criticism over how some town projects were put out to bid, and at its most recent meeting, the Board of Selectmen voted to appoint special counsel to help review town procurement matters.

Ellis Neofotistos, chairman of the town’s Permanent Building Committee, was not reachable for comment Tuesday.

Vandal said she doesn’t yet know when construction on the new station will be able to begin, as the town still needs to go through logistics and sign a contract with the company. She expects the contract to be signed sometime in January, she said.