PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — It will cost about $6 million more than state officials expected to realign and pave a 10-mile gravel stretch of Rochford Road through the central Black Hills.

The South Dakota Transportation Commission on Thursday awarded the project to Loiseau Construction. The Flandreau-based contractor bid $23,381,920.13.

That was 35% more than the state Department of Transportation’s estimate of $17,273,986.60, but less than the $35,714,263.36 bid submitted by Oftedal Construction of Casper, Wyoming.

They were the only bidders. The project runs south from the unincorporated community of Rochford to Deerfield Road, all in Pennington County.

DOT’s Sam Weisgram recommended that the state commission accept the lower of the two offers, rather than reject both and start over.

Commissioner Don Roby of Watertown observed that Oftedal’s bid was double the estimate. “The numbers are all over,” he said.

“We noticed the same thing,” Weisgram replied. “That’s why we took a hard look at this as we did our review.”

Weisgram said the remote location requires materials to be hauled in and getting equipment in and out will be complicated. Some rock blasting will be involved. “So it is somewhat of a difficult project to wrap your arms around and put an estimate to or put a bid to,” he said.

DOT staff looked but couldn’t identify any potential for substantial savings if the project was re-let, according to Weisgram. “We do feel it is the right move,” he said.

Two Pennington County Commission members were at the meeting. There were no questions to them, but the state commissioners revisited their March 9th decision to advance $11,962,000.00 of federal aid to Pennington County to help cover the project’s construction costs. In return, the county will forego its annual shares of federal aid for the next 10 years.

State Transportation Secretary Joel Jundt said DOT and the county have been planning the project since 2005. “The funding has always been the issue and how to get this thing paid for,” Jundt said. “This project has been in the pipeline for quite a long time.”

Weisgram described the project as “essentially” a full reconstruction.

“It gives us a complete new life,” he said.

Project plans can be are available here.

Rochford Road was one of eight projects awarded by the commission Thursday. A ninth received no bids and will be re-let.