South Lawrence Trafficway ( .PDF )
A batch of low bids has the South Lawrence Trafficway on track to be completed by late 2016, and the company set to complete it is a Columbia, Mo.-based construction firm.
The bypass project, which has been in various stages of development and legal disputes for more than 25 years, cleared another major hurdle Wednesday as construction bids came in well below estimates.
“They didn’t blow the budget, that’s for sure,” said Jonathan Marburger, project manager for the Kansas Department of Transportation.
Columbia-based Emery Sapp & Sons Inc. was the apparent low bidder at $129.8 million. Engineers had estimated a construction cost of $150 million for the final leg of the trafficway, which will run from Iowa Street to Kansas Highway 10 on the eastern edge of Lawrence.
KDOT officials will spend about a week reviewing the bids before awarding a construction contract for the project. Assuming the Emery Sapp & Sons bid checks out, the state is likely to issue a notice to proceed with the project by mid-October, Marburger said. He said he expects significant work will start taking place before the end of the year.
“If anything, it could start filling in portions of the wetlands before the end of the year,” Marburger said, referring to work in the Baker Wetlands. That work is being done under a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which comes with a timeline for the work to be completed.
Six companies submitted bids, with prices ranging from Emery Sapp & Sons’ low bid to a high of $155.9 million. Hamm Inc. in nearby Perry bid the project, but finished a distant third with a $137.5 million bid.
As the winner of the SLT bid, Emery Sapp & Sons also will build the extension of 31st Street from Haskell Avenue to O’Connell Road. Emery Sapp & Sons bid $3.9 million, the lowest of the six bids submitted. The two projects are being built together to gain efficiencies.
An official with Emery Sapp & Sons didn’t return a call Wednesday afternoon. Marburger said it wasn’t known how many jobs the construction project may add to the area, but he said it would be significant. He said it is the second largest road project in the state currently, trailing only a major bypass project in Johnson County.
“There will be a lot of workers staying in local hotels, eating local food, buying local products,” Marburger said. “There will be a definite spill over for the local economy.”
Once completed, the new six-mile section of trafficway will connect to the already-completed western portion of the roadway, which currently dead-ends at Iowa Street in south Lawrence. The completed bypass will carry traffic from Interstate 70, the Kansas Turnpike, west of Lawrence to Kansas Highway 10 east of Lawrence, allowing thru traffic to avoid 23rd Street and other city streets.
Construction on the project has been halted since the mid-1990s when the western portion of the road was completed. Lawsuits filed by environmental groups, the Prairie Band Potawatomie Nation and other organizations created a series of legal battles over the environmental damage the road’s route through the Baker Wetlands would create and also on the impact to the cultural and historical significance the wetlands have for Native Americans and other groups.
But the legal challenges ended after the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in July 2012 issued a ruling that cleared the way for the project, and the environmental mitigation efforts, which include building about 300 acres of man-made wetlands to replace the approximately 55 acres of wetlands that will be taken for the project.