Galena Creek Bridge and 580 freeway project grow in cost | NevadaAppeal.com

Galena Creek Bridge and 580 freeway project grow in cost

The Galena Creek Bridge and the Interstate 580 freeway project – described as the most expensive single highway project in Nevada history – just got more expensive.

The two bids to do the work opened by the Nevada Department of Transportation Thursday were both much higher than the $318.4 million the state estimated.

Fisher Sand and Gravel Co., of North Dakota, was the apparent low bidder at $393.4 million to finish the huge bridge and construct the six-lane freeway 8.5 miles from the Mount Rose junction to Winters Ranch at the north end of Washoe Valley.

Kiewit Western Co., of Concord, Calif., was the other bidder – proposing to do the work for $414.8 million – just shy of $100 million more than engineers’ estimates.

Susan Martinovich, deputy director of NDOT, said they have 30 days to evaluate the bids and decide whether to award the contract.

“It’s a large contract – the largest contract we’ve ever had in the state,” she said.

Martinovich said NDOT experts will have to evaluate the contract to see exactly where their estimates were wrong. She said one key will be the inflation factors in the bids. Since the contract is for 1,000 days – about three years – inflation in the costs for steel and concrete may explain the high bids. Prices for those items have been growing at double-digit rates for the past few years.

Martinovich said the state may have to “repackage” the project – meaning pull some portion of the work and bid that later. She said a possibility is paving the road, which could be done in a separate contract later since that would be the last step in completing the freeway.

But she said the freeway will be built one way or another.

“We’re committed to the project,” she said.

The bridge work, including the Galena Creek bridge and three small bridges, was in a separate contract issued about three years ago. But the contractor, Edward Kraemer & Sons, pulled out in a disagreement over whether the massive span could be safely erected given wind conditions in the area.

Kraemer engineers argued the danger was in the act of raising the two pieces of the steel truss that form the arch supporting the 1,719-foot-long, 300-foot-high bridge and connecting them in the middle of the span.

The bridge work contract was just $79.5 million of the total. Kraemer completed the three small bridges and erected footings and pillars for the big bridge, for which the company was paid a total of $50 million.

NDOT officials still hope to have I-580 completed between Reno and Carson City by 2010.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.