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Two bids are turned down for the Jefferson Avenue Footbridge rehabilitation project.
SBJ file
Two bids are turned down for the Jefferson Avenue Footbridge rehabilitation project.

Footbridge rehab in limbo after bids come in high

Posted online

It's back to the drawing board for the Jefferson Avenue Footbridge rehabilitation project.

During a presentation yesterday to Springfield City Council, the city's Public Works Department released the results of a bidding process for the project. Officials say bids were nearly double the estimate for the rehab, and both that came in have been turned down, according to a news release.

Two bids were received: One had a total cost of $6.2 million, while the other came in at $6.4 million. The engineering estimate on the historic structure was around $3 million. The Missouri Department of Transportation, which gave the city final approval to bid the project this fall, did not give the green light to either of the bids. Branco Enterprises Inc. and Martin General Contractors submitted the bids, said city spokesperson Kristen Milam.

Martin Gugel, assistant director of Public Works, told council the bidding environment likely was the cause, as the construction industry is currently facing higher material prices and low subcontractor and contractor availability. Additionally, the labor-intensive nature of the rehab and the risk of working over an active railroad may have been factors in why the bids came in higher than the estimate, he said.

Gugel cited "difficulties with labor shortages and scheduling conflicts" for both bidders struggling to provide documentation of the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise requirement of the project within a three-day window after their bids were submitted, according to the release. The U.S. Department of Transportation's DBE program is intended "to remedy ongoing discrimination and the continuing effects of past discrimination in federally assisted highway, transit, airport and highway safety financial assistance transportation contracting markets nationwide," according to the DOT's website.

“Upon review of the documentation and good faith effort on the part of both companies, MoDOT indicated they would not concur with awarding either proposal," Gugel said in the release.

The rehab project calls on for the repair and replacement of structural elements, wood decking and stairs, as well as the installation of two elevators, application of a new paint system and introduction of new lighting. Built in 1902, the 562-foot-long steel bridge crosses 13 tracks of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail yard between Commercial and Chase streets. It's been closed for more than five years due to safety concerns.

At the meeting yesterday, council members considered a potential rebidding of the project at a later date. City staff were directed to continue research on potential funding mechanisms and to look into improvements to the appearance of the bridge closure as well as potential enhancements to alternate pedestrian routes, according to the release.

The city in September announced that 80% of the project cost comes from surface transportation block grants, with a 20% local match.

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