LACONIA — After the bids to reconstruct the Main Street Bridge over the Winnipesaukee River were opened yesterday, City Manager Scott Myers said that he was "comfortable that the project could be undertaken within the time frame and financial parameters we anticipated."
When the project was first put to bid in March, all eight bids were approximately 35-percent above the estimate of $2.3 million prepared by Dubois & King, Inc., consulting engineers, with the lowest bid at $3.15 million. Moreover, the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT), which was expected to contribute 80 percent of the cost, found itself strapped for funds and capped its share at a flat dollar amount, doubling the cost born by the city to $1.6 million.
At the time, Myers proposed two options. The city could accept the low bid, award the contract and start work this year. Alternatively, the project could be delayed a year, when federal funds would become available through the Municipal Owned Bridge Rehabilitation and Replacement program would become available. The DOT projected the cost to rise by 10 percent to about $4.1-million and agreed to increase its share by $800,000, leaving the city to contribute a little more than $1 million.
The City Council chose to defer the project and the bids received yesterday confirmed the wisdom of its choice. There were four bids, half as many as were submitted in March. Beck & Bellucci, Inc. of Franklin bid $3,897,120, New England Infrastructure, Inc. of Hudson, Massachusetts $3,693,361, R.S. Audley, Inc. of Bow $3,314,177 and R.M. Piper, Inc. of Plymouth $3,299,304.
Bob Durfee of Dubois & King stressed that each of the bids will be evaluated before determining the low bidder and recommending a contractor to both the City Council and DOT. He estimated the contract would be awarded in four or five weeks.
Meyers said that the DOT has estimated the cost of the project, including design and engineering, at $4,027,721, to which the state will contribute $3,062,326, or 76 percent. However, the DOT will pay only to reconstruct the bridge to its original design. Therefore, in addition to the balance of the estimated cost of $965,394 the city will also bear the cost of modifications it requested, primarily widening the approach to the span from Beacon Street West as well as improvements to the "Gateway Plaza" at the foot of Main Street.
Meyers said that to match financial projections the bids for the construction work, including the modifications requested by the city, were expected to fall around $3,456,000. "Since two of the four bids are below that number, the raw numbers look favorable," he said, adding that he would have an opportunity to study the numbers more closely in the coming weeks.