County commissioners were updated at their March 7 meeting of the reason for a delay in letting bids for the Ward Road bridge repair project.
They met with Kevin Goff, principal and vice president of civil engineering at Clark Engineering, to discuss specifics on what caused the problem.
Goff went over the whole timeline of the Fink Bridge, beginning in January 2016 before the bridge had failed and closed.
The structure was selected for replacement that month, but was closed May 10. As part of an accelerated schedule, the Department of Transportation set a due date of Jan. 7, 2017 for preliminary plans for the project.
To meet this due date, Clark Engineering came up with a schedule that had final plans completed by October and taking bids in December.
“That was a perfect schedule … maybe not realistic, but it set the stage for what would have been the best possible scenario,” Goff said.
In June, the DOT issued Clark a notice to proceed and begin the design work for the bridge. The state had pledged that on August 26, they would have the Foundation Report completed and provided to the engineers.
The Foundation Report is what Clark uses to size the pile substructure and they cannot begin designing the substructure until they have that report.
Clark Engineering actually received the report on Nov. 7, 73 days after the pledged date from the DOT.
Goff said they had conversations at the beginning that if there was the possibility the internal foundations people at the state couldn’t meet the schedule, another company could have been hired to complete the report.
“The DOT did not want that and said they would get it in on time,” Goff said. “This is not the first time we’ve been delayed by a Foundation Report. This is not that uncommon.”
On Nov. 30. Clark submitted preliminary plans to the state, 38 days ahead of the set deadline of Jan. 7.
Once the DOT has the plans, they review design comps and engineering processes, along with a checklist of other things. The review process did not begin until Jan. 11.
Clark Engineering received the completed review from the state on Feb. 28 and began final plans for the project. By March 8, they submitted the final plans and hope the project will be bid mid-May.
The 60-day delay for opening bids is a normal process for the bid letting department of the DOT, according to Goff.
He said a realistic construction window after the contractor is chosen is 100-120 days. Even so, the girders for the bridge will still have to be manufactured, which takes 90-120 days.
“Assuming that all works, I don’t think you’re going to make harvest, but I think you can still get it done this year,” Goff said.
With a fairly straightforward schedule, he said a November completion date is reasonable.