Treasure Island and the contractor are reviewing the $8.6-million job so that work can begin soon.
By KATHY SAUNDERS
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 15, 2003
TREASURE ISLAND -- The lowest bid to replace the east and west approach bridges in the Causeway system exceeds the city's budget by $1-million.
City Public Works director Don Hambidge said he and representatives for the builder, Johnson Brothers of Orlando, are reviewing some of the costs.
For example, Hambidge told commissioners the city planned to buy lamp posts for the new bridges for about $5,000 apiece. Johnson Brothers was looking at similar light fixtures, priced at $16,000 each. The bridge will need 22 of those.
"They agreed to do some value engineering with us and I feel very good that we are going to be very close to that figure and I feel very good about who we have for the contractor," Hambidge told commissioners. He is planning to meet with the contractors again this week.
Johnson Brothers submitted the lowest of three bids to rebuild the Causeway's approach bridges -- $8.6-million for a job the company estimates will take 417 days.
Commissioners are expected to approve the final contract at the end of the month so that construction can begin in February or March.
Most of the money to replace the approach bridges is coming from a state transportation grant of $5.2-million.
The western approach bridge will be replaced first. Then construction will begin on the eastern bridge near Park Street in St. Petersburg.
The final price tag for the approaches and the main drawbridge is expected to be about $60-million.
"I think it is imperative that we get under way as soon as possible," said City Manager Chuck Coward. "The bridges are our lifeline. They are the No. 1 project facing this community today."
This year, Coward said, the city must address several critical issues regarding the new bridge:
-- First, that the new bridges will last 100 years. Engineers and designers will spend this year working on the final plans for the drawbridge.
-- Then the design of the new toll booth, which is within the city limits of St. Petersburg, and on a toll collection technology such as the statewide Sun Pass system.
-- Finally, the city will need to look this year for $20- to $30-million to replace the drawbridge. It will seek grants as well as revenue bonds for that.
Once the two approach bridges are paid for and the bascule bridge is designed, the city will have about $1.3-million in its Causeway Bridge account. That money needs to be available for emergency repairs to the existing bridge while the new one is going up. The current bridge has badly deteriorated and needs regular repairs.