An artist's rendering of the planned new Interstate 74 bridge.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The Iowa Department of Transportation said this week it received 16 bids for various elements of a new Interstate 74 bridge and a pair of affiliated projects.

An official said, however, it will likely be at least another couple weeks before final awards are made.

The DOT gave contractors until Tuesday to submit proposals. Although some of the 16 bids overlap, the response appears to have been a robust one. Ten different companies or joint ventures submitted 16 bids on four different packages.

Sam Shea, a district transportation planner in the DOT's Cedar Rapids office, said Wednesday the agency is pleased, although it is still in the process of ensuring that the bidders were responsive to the solicitations and that they meet state's requirements to take on the project.

"We saw plenty of interest," Shea said.

Prior to the bidding, the DOT said it had estimated the cost of the contracts to be awarded at between $400 million and $450 million, and it looks as if the bids mostly came in under that.

The DOT allowed contractors to bid as a combined package on the part of the bridge going over Mississippi River channel as well a separate span that will lead from the water's edge and connect to the central span. Bids also were accepted for those as separate projects.

For the combined package, the bids ranged from between $322.1 million and $416.2 million. The lowest bid was from Lunda Construction Co. of Black River Falls, Wisconsin. The second lowest bid was at $357.8 million.

Two joint ventures bid the projects separately, and those came in at $393.6 million and $416.5 million between them. A separate joint venture bid on one of the projects, but not the other.

Separately, there were six bids on the viaduct over downtown Bettendorf and off-ramp leading to U.S. 67 there. Bids for that package were sought separately from the others. Those bids ranged from $30.1 million to $37.9 million.

The lowest bidder in this case was Civil Constructors Inc. of Freeport, Illinois.

The Iowa DOT's review process can take as long as 30 days, although it usually makes an award before that.

In this case, however, the size of the project may lead to a longer time frame, with the Federal Highway Administration's Iowa and Washington, D.C., offices both weighing in, Shea said.

"It looks like we are probably at least two weeks away, perhaps a little more," he said.

In Illinois, a contract is expected to be awarded in June for work from the river to 7th Avenue in Moline, which will include the viaduct over downtown and street improvements to accommodate the interchanges. That's estimated at $120 million. Then, likely in September, contracts will be awarded for work on the interstate from 7th Avenue to just south of Avenue of the Cities, as well as street improvements, including reconstruction of 19th Street. That work has been estimated at $128 million.

Construction on the I-74 bridge is expected to get underway yet this summer with work on the foundations in the Mississippi River. The span itself is expected to be built in 2019 and 2020, and the existing bridge is scheduled to be torn down in 2021.

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