SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Department of Transportation’s latest round of project lettings saw contractors’ low bids higher than estimates for four of the seven.

This time, DOT officials recommended that the state Transportation Commission approve all seven. And the commissioners did, knowing that in the current economy, there wasn’t much of a choice.

The good news was that two of the projects received low bids that were less than DOT’s estimates.

Anderson Western of Bismarck, North Dakota, bid $6,545,956.89 for asphalt concrete surfacing of 14 miles of SD47 between SD20 and US12 in Walworth County. That was 13.3% below the $7,545,821.10 estimate and better than bids from four other contractors.

Spencer Quarries of Spencer, South Dakota, bid $9,088,717.09 for asphalt concrete surfacing of 12.5 miles of SD46 between Irene and US81 in Clay and Yankton counties. That was 8.3% below the $9,915,741.30 estimate and better than bids from five other contractors.

A third project saw a low bid that was close to the estimate. BX Civil & Construction of Dell Rapids bid $281,621.80 to connect an existing shared-use path along Broadway Avenue in Vermillion. That was 0.8% above the $279,318.95 estimate but below the bid of one other contractor.

Those savings were offset by bids well above estimates on the rest of the projects approved Tuesday.

BX Civil & Construction submitted a total low bid of $4,534,159.88 on a combination of two projects. For laying an epoxy chip seal and column repair on SD11 over West Pipestone Creek about five miles north of the Interstate 90 interchange in Minnehaha County, the company’s $329,656.88 bid was 20.3% over the $273,997.78 estimate. That was still less than one other bid.

BX bid $4,204,503.00 for assorted types of roadwork at various locations in Minnehaha and Lincoln counties. That was 6.4% over the $3,951,125.60 estimate but well below a competing bid.

Sam Weisgram from DOT’s Office of Project Development said the SD11 project had been let in March but one bid came back unacceptably high. He said the project was revised and repackaged as part of the other project.

Heavy Constructors of Rapid City bid $10,579,709.97 to remove and replace a pedestrian bridge on Anamosa Street over I-190 in Rapid City. Even though it was 10.9% more than the $9,543,389.95 estimate, there were no other bids. Asked why, Weisgram explained, “We did bid the job a month ago and received no bids.” He said that “generally speaking” that early fall was the better time of year to bid for a project start next spring, but there’s “an influx” of bridge work already underway among contractors.

J.V. Bailey Company of Rapid City bid $1,209,453.70 for work on the US18 bridge over the Cheyenne River south of Hot Springs in Fall River County. That was 51.8% more than the $796,540.00 estimate but less than $32,000 below the other bid.

Weisgram said the bridge repair is needed and there’s no other viable options. Commission member Mike Vehle of Mitchell said the two bids were “pretty close” and competitive. He offered this perspective: “You can have ruts and potholes in the road, but when a bridge is gone, you’re screwed.”

No one disagreed.