It was inevitable though I kept wishing for divine intervention to make this bad dream go away. But the Arkansas Highway Commission opened bids today on the project to replace the Broadway Bridge in downtown Little Rock.
Of four bids, a $114 million bid from Massman Construction of Kansas City was the low bidder. The bids will be reviewed before the contract is awarded. The length of the contract is a factor.
The state had planned to spend $58 million on a replacement bridge for the 1923 span, plus $20 million from Pulaski County to add a decorative superstructure. I’m trying to find out an explanation for the big price differential and whether that will have an impact. A tweet from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette says the low bid calls for closure to traffic for only six months, rather than two years, which might be a factor. It would certainly be good news to downtown workers (like me) who dread the traffic nightmare this project is going to cause when it begins early next year.
A D-G followup indicates the Massman bid would be reduced to a net of just under $100 million if it can get the job done as quickly as it thinks and highway officials seem happy with the bid at that level, but will be studying it for several more days before making a firm decision.
Though the Massman bid called for days out of service better than two months shorter than the closest competitor, it still says it will take more than two years to do the full project. That will leave motorists wondering what “in service” means during the 21 months that work will continue while the bridge is nominally functional.
Though many past articles put the bridge project at $80 million, department spokesman Randy Ort said of today’s development:
The apparent low bid for the Broadway Bridge project was $98.4 million. That includes having the bridge out of service only about 6 or 7 months.
We’ve been saying for the past year that we hoped it would be in the $80-100 million range. We’ll review all the bids to make sure they are accurate and meet specifications, then we’ll determine whether we accept or reject the bid late this week or early next week.