Project bids come in $100M over estimates

July 28, 2018

CHARLESTON - Bids for the first major Roads to Prosperity highways construction project to go to bid opening have come in more than $100 million over estimates, according to West Virginia Division of Highways documents.

“Honestly, we’re just going to have to take a look to see if there’s anything that contributed to the bids coming in higher than the estimated cost,” Highways spokesman Brent Walker said Thursday of the bids for the Interstate 70 project in Wheeling.

The project, which entails the reconstruction or rehabilitation of seven miles of interstate highway, including 22 bridges, had an estimated cost of $172.5 million, according to the division’s Roads to Prosperity project list published Sept. 8, 2017.

However, according to bid documents opened Wednesday, the low bid for the Interstate 70 project was $275.16 million by Trumbull-Kokosing - $102.66 million over the cost estimate.

Other bidders were Fay-Orders at $314.9 million and Flatiron Contractors at $347.8 million.

Walker said the Interstate 70 bids raise concerns since, as the first major Roads to Prosperity project to go to bid, Highways officials thought it could be a gauge of how bidding may go for other major projects.

“It’s the first large GO project, and we thought it could be viewed as a bellwether for contractors on other big projects,” he said.

GO refers to the project being funded through general obligation bonds that voters approved in the road bond referendum last Oct. 7.

Walker said it is not unheard of for bids for individual projects to come in significantly above estimates but said Highways officials will be analyzing the Interstate 70 project bids over the next week.

“We’re in the process of reviewing it, trying to dissect it,” he said, adding, “We’re going to take a look and review it and see if there’s anything we missed or if there’s anything going on in the markets that we overlooked.”

The Interstate 70 project was touted last fall as one of more than a dozen “big-ticket” items, each costing more than $60 million, that would be funded if voters approved the Roads to Prosperity constitutional amendment in a special election in October.

At the time the project list was unveiled, Walker said it was important to let voters know what projects would be funded if the bond referendum was approved.

“Folks are frustrated. They want infrastructure that is modern and that is safe, and we have a real opportunity to provide those upgrades,” Walker said. “As (Transportation) Secretary (Tom) Smith has said over and over again, ‘There is a cost of doing nothing.’”

Voters ultimately approved the road bond referendum on Oct. 7 by a 73 percent to 27 percent margin.

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