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Bridge project deadline extended to late 2012

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Federal agency gives states additional time to target funding

By Phyllis McLaughlin

 

The Trimble Banner

Partial funding from the federal TIGER grant has brought with it some complications, said project manager John Carr of Wilbur Smith Associates. Wilbur Smith is the Lexington engineering consultant firm hired by KYTC to oversee the Milton-Madison Bridge project.

Officials from KYTC, INDOT and the local districts of the Federal Highway Administration worked together to submit a request for $95 million from the $1.5 billion TIGER program, which would have funded the bulk of the Milton-Madison Bridge project. The two states each had agreed to pay $18 million to cover the remaining $36 million for the project.

In a phone interview Thursday, Carr confirmed that the federal government has agreed to extend the deadline for the project beyond February 2012. The extension, he explained, allows for the extra time both states need to get the additional funding in place to cover their much-larger shares of estimated $131 million project.

Kentucky’s share of the funding will come from the state’s 2008-10 Road Fund or from the 2010-12 Road Fund budget, Chuck Wolfe said. If the funding comes from the upcoming Road Fund budget, that funding won’t be available until July 1, the start of the 2010 fiscal year, when the state’s new budget goes into effect.

Additionally, Carr said USDOT won’t release the $20 million TIGER grant funds for the project until both states have their share of the funding in place.

Though USDOT has not determined a specific date for the new deadline to complete the bridge, Carr said federal officials still want it finished in 2012.

The extension actually is beneficial to the project for two reasons, Carr added. Originally, project officials were planning to advertise for bids in April, open bids in May and award the contract in June. Now, the bids will be opened in August and the contract awarded in September, with construction then beginning in early fall.

This delay gives engineers additional time to put together more precise specifications for contractors to bid on, Carr said.

Additionally, he said, pushing the deadline for completion back several months provides some flexibility for the winning contractor. First, the contractor will not be forced to pour concrete in the winter, which may reduce the cost of the project some. In the winter, contractors must cover fresh concrete with heated padding to help it set, which is expensive.

Additionally, the contractors will not face penalties should they have to stop work on the bridge during inclement weather, Carr said.