- Associated Press - Thursday, September 18, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A Missouri construction company has submitted the lowest bid to replace a bridge over the Arkansas River to Little Rock.

The Broadway Bridge should be out of commission for no more than six months, if Arkansas highway officials accept the $98.4 million bid by Massman Construction Co., the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported (https://bit.ly/1udcWzR ). The Kansas City, Missouri, firm said in its bid documents that it expects the project to take about 2 1/2 years to complete.

“If the bid is accepted, six months will be a huge sigh of relief to everybody in central Arkansas,” said Jim McKenzie, executive director for Metroplan, the region’s long-range transportation planning agency. Some motorists had thought the span would be closed to traffic for at least 18 months.

Bids were opened Wednesday, and the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department said three other construction firms also submitted proposals, ranging from $114.2 million to about $115.4 million.

The state highway agency said last week the low bid was expected to exceed $80 million. If it’s approved, it will be the largest the department has ever awarded.

Highway officials say the existing bridge is safe, but has become expensive to maintain. It opened to traffic in 1923.

Scott Bennett, the department’s director, said Massman also beat other bidders in the length of time the bridge would be closed to traffic. He said the Missouri firm’s proposal shows it has “a lot of experience.”

“And they found a way to do it quicker than we thought it could happen,” Bennett said.

He said he hopes highway officials will analyze the bids over the next couple of days and pick Massman’s bid.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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