by Max Brantley
The Arkansas Highway Commission and Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) have accepted the $98.4 million bid from Massman Construction Company of Kansas City, Missouri, to replace the Broadway Bridge crossing the Arkansas River between downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock. This now becomes the single largest contract ever awarded by the Highway Commission.
The AHTD received four bids from across the country on the project:
* Edward Kraemer & Sons, Inc. $114.2 million
* Massman Construction Company $98.4 million
* PCL Civil Constructors, Inc. $114.4 million*
* Brasfield & Gorrie,LLC $115.4 million
“We’re very pleased with the bids we received, particularly the bid from Massman,” stated AHTD Director Scott Bennett. “We gave contractors 12 weeks instead of four to develop their bids hoping they would find innovative ways to keep both the cost and time down. We’re excited to begin this journey with Massman.”
Not only was Massman’s bid the lowest in terms of cost, their bid also was the shortest in terms of time for the bridge to be out of service. Original estimates were that the bridge could be out of service for up to two years.
“From the beginning, the length of time for the construction has been a major point of concern,” Bennett added. “While the bridge is out, 24,000 vehicles per day must find another way to cross the river. A six-month closure will certainly be less burdensome than two years."
The current project first gained attention in 2008 when the AHTD put it in its draft four-year construction program covering the years 2010-2013. Original cost estimates from the AHTD for a standard plate girder bridge were $58 million.
Pulaski County eventually agreed to contribute $20 million to the project for a more elaborate design, the double basket handle network tied arch, bringing the estimated cost to about $80 million in 2012.
The complexity of the design, unique steel fabrication requirements, and recently rising concrete and steel costs, combined with the need for a short construction timeline, had the AHTD concerned about the bids they were going to receive.
“Our latest estimates from this year had the project going for anywhere from $80 to $100 million,” Bennett stated. “Needless to say, the combination of a sub-$100 million bid and six-month bridge out-of-service window was good to hear.”
Still yet to be determined is when the current bridge will be taken out of service.
According to Bennett, “In the near future, we’ll begin working out the details with the contractor to determine the detailed sequence of construction. Once we have a firm timeline for when the current bridge will be closed, we will provide as much notice and information as we can.”
Bids were also accepted on Wednesday for a project to widen Interstate 40 to six lanes extending from Morgan eastward to the Interstate 40/Interstate 430 interchange.
McGeorge Contracting Co., of Pine Bluff was awarded a $38.36 million contract to complete the five-mile widening project, which includes modifications to the 40/430 interchange.
This is the last construction project needed to complete the widening of Interstate 40 to six lanes between North Little Rock and Conway. Completion is expected in mid-2016.