Keystone Bridge rehab project faces delay as bid is rejected

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Elkader’s Keystone Bridge Rehab project will likely be delayed, as the one bid received for the project was rejected by the Iowa DOT when it came in much higher than anticipated.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register

 

In a surprising development, Elkader’s Keystone Bridge rehab project will likely be delayed, as the one bid received for the project was rejected by the Iowa DOT. 

 

According to Elkader City Administrator Jennifer Cowsert, the decision “was made based on the costs coming in much greater than the norm.” 

 

The rejection also had to be approved by the Bremer County Board of Supervisors, since the project is bundled with another project in that county and because Bremer County is the contracting authority. 

 

Cowsert said a single bid is abnormal for a project this size. 

 

“We don’t know why there was only one bid. We do know that contractors on other projects mentioned being busy or having lots of projects to bid in March, so we assume that may be part of why we only received one bid,” she stated.

 

As for the cost, Cowsert noted it’s difficult to provide an explanation due to the bidding process itself. Until a bid is accepted, officials are not really allowed to speak with the contractor. 

 

One problem that might have resulted in a single bid is how the project is classified. According to Cowsert, the project is being bid on under the bridge category, which could lead companies to believe it is a full-scale bridge construction project rather than a rehab. 

 

Cowsert hopes this issue can be solved by the city engaging in more pre-bid meetings and by providing more information about the project at future biddings. 

 

The project will be re-bid in July or August, which Cowsert said means, “it is very likely no work will be done this construction season.  However, that won’t be known until the contractor is in place.” 

 

While it is possible the contractor could start in September and possibly get small portions of the project completed, such as tuckpointing, it remains a long shot. 

 

“Since the bridge has to be open over the winter, there is not a lot they can do between September and the end of construction season. It is more likely that they will just start in the next construction season,” Cowsert noted.

 

The work that is scheduled to be completed consists of removing and replacing the sidewalk and railing and the metal supports for the sidewalk; large amounts of tuckpointing; replacing the driving surface and adding a water bearer and stormwater system underneath to reduce the amount of water that seeps down to the stones, which is very harmful to the limestone; adding tie-rods to fortify the structure; and replacing paving on either side of the bridge to the cross streets so it ties into the new driving surface.

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