- The Arkansas DOT revealed the bid results for 31 projects (here and here) last Wednesday, identifying the contractors who were the low bidders. The value of the low bids was approximately $142 million. Three of the projects received no bids.
- The biggest project up for grabs was the widening of a 14.5-mile stretch of U.S. 412 north of Jonesboro, Arkansas. Three contractors submitted bids on that project, and the lowest was a $58.5 million proposal from the joint venture of Atlas Asphalt and Delta Asphalt of Arkansas. The state rejected a previous $62.4 million bid for the project in September as too high, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
- Two other large projects were also among those that drew the interest of several contractors. Bobby Kennedy Construction, based in Quitman, Arkansas, was the low bidder for a four-lane highway project at almost $34 million, and Crouse Construction of Harrison, Arkansas, submitted the lowest bid ($13.6 million) for a bridge replacement and highway widening in Newton County, Arkansas.
The U.S. 412 widening initiative is one of the $1.8 billion Connecting Arkansas Program projects that is being funded by a 10-year, one-half cent sales tax that will expire in 2023. About 200 miles of highways and interstates will be improved or built using money from the temporary tax.
Regardless, all state transportation departments have their budgets and often go back to the drawing board to refine their project parameters, like the Arkansas DOT did for the U.S. 412 project, or have to be willing to incorporate input from contracting teams about how they can reduce the price tag.
In fact, the Arkansas DOT is faced with a different project that is currently projected to cost almost twice the budgeted amount. The state selected the joint venture of Kiewit Infrastructure South and Massman Construction to design and build a rehabilitation of the Interstate 30 bridge corridor through Little Rock. The state’s original calculations had the project, 30 Crossing, coming in at about $535 million, but Kiewit-Massman, when taking into consideration all the features that transportation officials want, said the project could cost as much as $1 billion.
Scott Bennett, state DOT director, told members of the Arkansas State Highway Commission at a meeting earlier this month that they would have to give up some features if they wanted Kiewit-Massman to be able to move towards the original estimate. In the contractor’s agreement with the state, there is a provision that they will work for the next six months with transportation officials to shave as much as they can from project costs.