NEW ORLEANS (AP) The state has awarded a $453 million contract — $153 million more than earlier expected — for work on the largest phase of the Huey P. Long Bridge expansion.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development reviewed the bid for nearly two months to assess whether the increased cost was justified. The contract went to three companies — Massman Construction Co. of Missouri; Traylor Brothers Inc. of Indiana; IHI Inc. of Japan — that made the sole bid.
State Transportation Secretary Johnny B. Bradberry said a re-bid would create the potential for no bidders or an even higher bid: “Either scenario puts the entire project in jeopardy.”
Initially, the entire project was estimated to cost $300 million; the most recent estimate is more than $800 million.
Contributing to the increased cost are labor issues and higher prices for materials. Projects like this, financed by the state’s Transportation Infrastructure Model for Economic Development, have an 80 percent in-state residency requirement for workers. That means contractors must try to find workers from the limited labor pool or pay to relocate workers from out of state.
Work on the costliest phase of the project is expected to begin later this year. It calls for widening the roadway on the 71-year-old bridge from two, 9-ft. (2.7 m) lanes to three, 11-ft. (3.3 m) lanes, and for fastening on new trusses, which balance the bridge. The project is expected to finish in 2013.
The final phase of the project — eliminating traffic circles and reworking approaches — isn’t expected to be advertised until early next year.
Massman Construction is finishing the first phase of the project.