Huey P. Long widening hit by higher construction costs

From staff and wire reports

July 12, 2007 at 8:51 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

NEW ORLEANS - The major expansion of the Huey P. Long Bridge has been hit by sharp increases in construction prices following Hurricane Katrina.

The only bid to complete the project's third phase was 51 percent, or about $153 million, more than the state's estimate.

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development said Wednesday that a trio of national and international construction companies submitted a $452.6 million bid to complete the widening of the bridge's roadway from two 9-foot lanes in both directions to three 11-foot lanes.

The firms are Massman Construction Co. of Missouri, Traylor Brothers Inc. of Indiana and IHI Inc. of Japan

The widening of those lanes is the most expensive phase in the state's $800 million project to bring the Depression-era bridge up to date, said Dana Newsome, communications director for the state's Transportation Infrastructure Model for Economic Development program.

The bid will be reviewed by a transportation department engineering committee to determine whether any errors were made and if the increased cost is justified.

If the bid is accepted, work could begin in 2008, but if it is rejected, possible revisions to the project will be considered, Newsome said.

"We are very concerned about the lack of competition in the market and how that is affecting bids," Transportation Secretary Johnny Bradberry. "We will aggressively review all bids that deviate substantially from our estimate to justify how the public's money is being spent."

The project, which is broken into four phases, began in April and should be completed by 2013. In addition to the lane widening, it also includes improvements to the bridge approaches and the railroad track that also crosses the Mississippi River.

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