St. Louis Public Radio News
2:03 pm
Wed December 30, 2009

Contractor selected for new Mississippi River bridge

St. Louis – The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission has awarded a $229.5 million contract to build the main span of the new Mississippi River bridge.

The winning bid went to a joint venture of St. Louis-based Alberici Constructors, Massman Construction of Kansas City and Traylor Brothers, Inc. The proposal, however, was still $39 million more than the Missouri Department of Transportation hoped to spend on the span.

There was no way to meet the design needs of the bridge at a lower cost, said Massman Construction vice president Mark Schnoebelen, who will oversee the joint venture.

"Our bid was based on our experience, our team's experience," he said. "We've built half a dozen cable-stayed bridges, and so we think we've got a pretty good handle on what it costs to build the bridge."

The bridge will be the second-longest of its kind in the country, and must be built to stricter earthquake standards. The builders must also deal with laws and regulations in both Missouri and Illinois.

MoDOT isn't happy that the bids were higher than expected, said Dave Nichols, the agency's director of program delivery. But delaying the project to rebid would just push costs higher.

"It is so easy to move a project out, and delay after delay just causes cost creep, and you never catch that."

The overruns will be made up with design changes to other parts of the bridge, savings from the reconstruction of Interstate 64, and lower interest rates on bonds

Construction could begin in April, Schnoebelen said. The entire project is expected to be completed in 2014.