MISSOULA — Higher-than-expected construction estimates means reconstruction of the Higgins Avenue Bridge won't be getting underway anytime soon -- in fact, work could be delayed by eight-to-12 months.
"We had checked into that early, during the design phase. But for a variety of reasons, our package slid a little bit in the timeline," said MDT Missoula District Administrator Bob Vosen.
Contractors would have been starting the initial work right now to reconstruct the aging bridge if the original plans had worked out for the Montana Department of Transportation. However, MDT was thrown a curveball when the only contractor to bid on the project said it would cost nearly $38 million, far above the state's $16 million estimate.
Vosen says the problem is rising construction costs, and the changes in acquiring some of the materials for the project.
“In Montana we're a small player in the construction world as far as roadway bridge construction,” he explained. “It sounds like some suppliers had some issues with meeting the really tight time frame we had."
Vosen said MDT will now take some time to review the project specifications with hopes of putting the revisions out to bid this spring. Under that timeframe, he now believes construction would start until later this fall, tentatively pushing the date for competition into the spring of 2022.
Vosen said MDT will meet with the city next week to discuss the delay, and will keep in touch with downtown leaders and other groups as the timeline takes shape.