Bridge replacement contract awarded

Published 3:00 am Friday, August 4, 2017

A bridge on the verge of collapse in Goshen could start being replaced within two weeks as the Pike County Commission awarded a contract for the project at an emergency meeting Thursday.

The commission awarded a $545,000 contract to low bidder Newell and Bush out of Montgomery to handle the project.

County engineer Russell Oliver said the project schedule has been expedited to get the bridge finished as quickly as possible.

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This is a significantly shortened timeframe than under normal bidding law,” Oliver said. We’re going to issue an award letter immediately. Seven days later we’ll issue a notice to proceed and they’ll have seven days to begin.”

Once the project starts, the contractors will have 60 calendar days to finish the project.

If the project were to get finished within that timeframe, the project would be finished October 16.

Oliver said the 60-day project requirement doesn’t mean the project will necessarily be finished within those 60 days, but that contractors would have to pay liquidated damages if the project takes longer.

The decision comes after the commission declared the bridge’s failure as an emergency at their commission meeting last week.

The bridge failed after heavy rains in June, which Oliver said left the bridge on the verge of collapse.

The commission also had to vote on a bank loan to fund the project, choosing First National Bank (FNB) over Troy Bank and Trust (TB&T).

FNB offered the lower rates at 3.5 percent if the loan is taxable and 2.23 percent if it is tax-exempt. TB&T offered a rate of 4.25 percent if taxable and 2.81 percent if exempt.

County attorney Allen Jones said that the loan should qualify as exempt.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) emergency relief funds will be the primary source to pay off that loan.  The FHWA will provide 80 percent of the funds with the county providing a 20 percent match.

Once engineering, testing and other various fees are factored in, Oliver said the county’s portion will be in the range of $140,000 to $150,000.

The county did not take any action on where to get the money to pay that 20 percent, but commissioners discussed paying it out of a special fund that includes money given by probate judge Wes Allen and the county’s lodging tax.

Russell Johnson, District 6 commissioner, said he has talked with state officials that estimate 80 percent of FHWA funds coming in for payment within six months.

The commission also discussed committing future payments into the fund to pay off the loan instead of taking a lump sum out of the $440,000 fund.

County administrator Harry Sanders said his office could crunch the numbers on what the difference in interest will be and report back to the commission.

The next meeting of the Pike County Commission will be Monday, August 14 upstairs at the Pike County Health Department. The work session will begin at 5:15 p.m. with the business meeting directly afterward at 6 p.m.