Work on Hot Springs highways will be pricey

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Road work ahead generic construction

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Six of the 12 low bids accepted Tuesday by the state Transportation Commission for South Dakota road and bridge projects next year came in at least 17% above estimates.

Highest, at 32.4 to 49.7% over, were winning bids for work on US 18 and US 385 through Hot Springs that ran more than $9.4 million above.

State Department of Transportation officials assured the commission that the Hot Springs bids reflect a special situation of needing to protect historic buildings — many made of local sandstone — from vibration damage during construction.

Commissioner Benj Stoick of Mobridge asked if the contractor, Complete Concrete Inc. doing business as Complete Contracting Solutions of Rapid City, would have to restore any building that gets damaged.

Department Secretary Joel Jundt said the building owner would need to prove the damage came from the construction and the contractor is required to have insurance coverage. Jundt said any legal action would be between the building owner and the contractor.

Stoick replied that he fears state government would wind up in the litigation. Jundt said there are many complex and dynamic things in play on the project and there are risks for the contractor.

Sam Weisgram, engineering manager for the department, said a meeting was held with three contractors before the November bid letting to gather ideas, such as how to keep traffic flowing during the two-year, 2.5-mile project. He said the city government wants to proceed.

Said Commissioner Don Roby of Watertown, “I take some consolation from the fact that we had multiple bids on the project.”

Reede Construction Inc. of Aberdeen was lowest on two of the four pieces but Complete Concrete was lowest overall at $31,472,345.87.

Weisgram said the contractor must deal with narrow corridors through the business district and the uncertain risks of what might be found underground.

Commissioner Mike Vehle of Mitchell wondered whether there are many historic places where vibration must be tracked during a highway project. Vehle said the bids were “relatively close” in amounts: “It looks like they were all in the same basic ballpark.”

Reede Construction’s total was $33,811,447.44 and Oftedahl Construction of Casper, Wyoming, came in at $37,611,080.26. The estimated total was $22,015,450.18.

Weisgram said insurance wasn’t a specific itemized cost in the bids and the department doesn’t have a record of those amounts.

Overall, low bids on the dozen projects totaled more than $77 million for work in Fall River, Gregory, Pennington, Butte, Lawrence, Meade, Aurora, Brule, Davison, Hanson, McCook, Brookings, Charles Mix, Campbell and McPherson counties. Bid summaries can be seen here and here.

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