Natchez Trace bridge bids start at $7.4M

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – It will cost at least $1.4 million more than estimated to construct a bridge over the Natchez Trace Parkway as part of the city’s northern loop road project.
Engineers opened bids Wednesday from three companies vying for the job: Madison-based Key Constructors had the low bid of $7.4 million; Aberdeen-based Eutaw Construction requested $8.3 million; and Falkner-based Hill Brothers Construction asked for $8.5 million to do the work.
The five-lane, 320-foot bridge had been estimated to cost $6 million during an analysis done nearly two years ago.
“It’s hard to predict these things, but it’s not a huge shock,” said John White of Engineering Solutions Inc., the firm handling the project for the city’s Major Thoroughfare Program.
Funded by a 10-mill property tax, the Major Thoroughfare Program makes large-scale road improvements citywide. It currently is building a new road connecting west Tupelo with the Barnes Crossing shopping district. The road commonly is called the northern loop and must cross both the Natchez Trace and U.S. Highway 78.
Major Thoroughfare Committee members could select a preferred contractor at their Oct. 8 meeting. It then must meet City Council approval before a contract is signed.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation also must authorize the deal because the project will receive federal funds administered by the state. A decision from MDOT could come later this month, said Jeff Wages of MDOT.
If all goes as planned, construction of the bridge could begin by mid- to late November. The project is slated to take 16 months to complete, White said.
The bridge over U.S. 78 could start later this year or early next year.
The entire northern loop is 4.5 miles long and paid mostly through revenues generated by the Major Thoroughfare tax levy.
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com