After more than a year of discussions and contention, Douglas County has set a date to accept bids for repairing the Kansas River bridge at Lecompton.
Advertising for bids will begin Monday, and bids will be opened Jan. 23.
The county's repair contract calls for construction to start March 12. The bridge will be closed to all traffic once repairs begin.
The contract sets a "substantial completion" date for Aug. 10, which would be before the start of school in the Perry-Lecompton school district.
There would be a $10,000 fee assessed against the contractor for each day the bridge isn't finished after the deadline. The latest estimates put construction costs between $1.7 million and $2 million, excluding the cost of repainting the existing steel on the bridge superstructure.
County commissioners and County Engineer Keith Browning initially hoped to call for bids at least three months ago, but a disagreement with Jefferson County about sharing costs on the project and whether the bridge would be closed during repairs led to delays.
Despite the short period of time between awarding a bid and the start of construction, Browning thinks contractors will bid on the project.
It is not unusual for contractors to have as little as a month to get ready for a construction project after a bid is awarded, said Steve Glass, president of LRM Industries in Lawrence.
"It would be unusual that we would expect more time than that," Glass said. LRM will not be offering a bid because the bridge work is not the type of project it typically handles, he said.
If the bids are too high, that could cause further delays and possibly lead to rescheduling the project in 2008. Some repair work would have to be done anyway, Browning has said.
"The worst-case scenario would be to wait another year," Commissioner Charles Jones said.
Once a bid is awarded, the county can try to negotiate financial incentives with the contractor for completing the work ahead of schedule, Browning said.
"Can you do it in fewer days, and what would it take?" Browning said the contractor would be asked.
If Douglas County doesn't have the money to pay for incentives, that option could be offered to Jefferson County to see whether it is interested in paying that cost.
Two of the three Jefferson County commissioners favored keeping one of the bridge lanes open during repairs because of its importance to Perry and Lecompton area residents, businesses and schools. Keeping the bridge open would increase the cost of the project and the length of construction time. There still would be periods when the bridge would be completely closed.
Even if the bridge project is completed by the time school starts next year, the district still has to deal with the closing during the spring. More bus drivers will be hired and more routes and shuttle sites will be added to try to compensate for using detour routes, Superintendent Steve Johnston said.
"Probably right after the first of the year, we're going to be contacting our parents and our families and getting those plans in place," Johnston said.
Commissioners directed County Administrator Craig Weinaug to set up a Web site that can be used to keep the public informed about the progress of the bridge project.
- Deadline has been set for repairs to Kansas River Bridge near Lecompton
- Counties sign off on bridge agreement (10-26-06)
- Jeff. Co. will not challenge bridge plan (10-20-06)
- 6News video: Lecompton Bridge work to begin
- Bridge impasse likely at an end (10-19-06)
- Jefferson County appeals to KDOT on bridge issue
- Commissioners OK Lecompton bridge letter (09-21-06)
- Bridge closure may cause school district hardship (09-19-06)