Projected cost of second bridge jumps to $56 million

November 14, 2018

LAUGHLIN — Cost and value of a second bridge over the Colorado River became the focus of attention for the Laughlin Town Advisory Board on Tuesday.

A new estimate for the proposed bridge connecting Laughlin to Bullhead City was announced and the cost increased significantly, going up to almost $56.3 million with most of the cost falling on Nevada’s shoulders. A rough estimate of about $3.7 million is Bullhead City’s responsibility.

Original estimates in 2015 placed the expected cost at around $40 million, a number that by three months ago had ballooned to $47 million.

Bob Leuck, deputy public works director, brought the advisory board up to speed on the bridge project during the reports portion of the meeting.

“This project is nearing completion as far as design goes,” said Leuck. “(The design consultant) indicated if everything goes smoothly, next month around the holidays they will be submitting the final plans, specifications and cost estimate.”

That last part, cost estimate, is what caused eyebrows to be raised.

“Those of you who may have heard already, the cost has gone up, it’s increased,” said Leuck. “Right now, don’t faint, the estimated cost was $56,280,000. Yes, that’s significantly more than the original estimates done during the planning stage.”

According to Leuck, there is about $18 million in federal grant money to be used for the bridge.

The Regional Transportation Commission and county commissioners also identified $15 million in RTC money for the project, said Leuck. Those two funding sources cover $33.5 million of the project.

He said there is $17 million set aside for the RTC fiscal year 2023, five years from now, earmarked for the bridge. That money isn’t available now unless the request is made by the board of county commissioners, then the RTC would have to agree to move up that money, Leuck said.

“We are still quite a few million dollars short and that’s our biggest hurdle right now, identifying funding,” said Leuck. They still have about three and a half months of permitting left but they are far along in the permitting process.

The first question from advisory board member Gina Mackey was to clarify how much was Nevada’s responsibility and how much is Arizona’s.

Leuck said he wasn’t sure how costs came to be split that way and did some digging after he was asked about the lopsidedness. All Leuck could find was it was noted that the LTAB agreed that federal funding would pay for the bridge, while Bullhead City would pay for the connections on the Arizona side and Clark County would pay for the Nevada side.

“Why is our side so much more expensive?” asked Kathy Ochs, advisory board member. Ochs asked additional clarifying questions about how much money is earmarked for the Arizona side and what it was Nevada actually agreed to pay.

As the conversation at LTAB continued, the concerns by the advisory board seemed to increase and it eventually began to discuss the location of the bridge.

The second bridge is planned to connect to the south end of Bullhead Parkway, near the Mohave Crossroads shopping center where Target and other retail stores are located.

Board members, and audience members later during public comment, expressed significant concern that the bridge is costly and wouldn’t benefit Laughlin due to location.

Advisory board members didn’t appear to disagree with a second bridge in particular but were more concerned about the cost and questioned if it is even beneficial to Laughlin.

Due to the level of concern, the advisory board discussed adding the item to their next agenda to talk options, including reconsideration of the project at that location.

Bullhead City is in the process of bidding out the infrastructure costs for the Arizona side of the project, according to Bullhead City Manager Toby Cotter.

“The city plans to have its infrastructure in place this spring,” he told the Daily News. “We have a great partnership with Clark County and look forward to building a new bridge. For years Bullhead City knew it was responsible for the infrastructure on the Arizona side, no matter the cost. Let’s keep in mind that Bullhead City has already invested millions in street improvements on the existing parkway by Target.”

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