Road agency, Bryant team for I-30 work

Interchange 1 of 35 projects for which state opens bids

A map showing the Bryant interchange, existing and new.
A map showing the Bryant interchange, existing and new.

Bryant is getting a second interchange, prompted by the Saline County city's population growth and accompanying development.

The city's $2 million contribution for the project didn't hurt, either.

The interchange on Interstate 30 was among 35 projects on which the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department reported low bids worth $56.2 million Wednesday. Contracts for the projects won't be awarded until the department reviews the bids for accuracy.

Kiewit Infrastructure South Co. of Fort Worth actually submitted the highest bid -- $6,686,238.04 -- but beat out two competitors because the company said it could complete the interchange in 125 days.

The department judged each day to cost $13,000, which made the bid amount for award consideration $8,311,238.04.

The cost is the dollar value assigned to the effect of the project on I-30 traffic during the construction. A barrier wall placed next to the outside lane in both directions on I-30 will result in a narrow lane width at the project site, said Danny Straessle, a department spokesman.

Redstone Construction Group Inc. of Little Rock submitted the lowest bid, $5,248,585.72. But the contractor said it would need 265 days to complete the project, which made the bid amount for award consideration $8,693,585.72.

The bid by Manhattan Road & Bridge Co. of Tulsa was $5,907,525.44, but it said it would need 225 days, making its amount for award consideration $8,832,525.44.

If Kiewit's bid is approved, the work could begin by March and be completed in the summer, Straessle said.

"This is a relatively easy job," he said.

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The city has been making do with one interchange at Reynolds Road, also called Arkansas 183. But it is getting crowded.

From 2010-15, Bryant's population climbed nearly 20 percent, from 16,720 to 19,986, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.

"The majority of Bryant residents uses Exit 123 (Hwy 183/Reynolds and I-30) and it is generally considered the only Bryant Exit," Casey Covington, a senior planner at Metroplan, the long-range transportation planning agency for central Arkansas, said in an email. "Exit 121 [Alcoa Road] and Exit 126 [Alexander Road] can be used to access parts of Bryant."

As a result, a new interchange is overdue, he said.

"It is 3.5 miles from Alexander Road to Reynolds Road," Covington said. "This spacing allows for the addition of an interchange and Metroplan concurs with the findings that a new interchange is justified."

It didn't hurt that the city chipped in the $2 million. The Transportation Department often encourages cities to "partner" with the agency, saying such projects can be built faster than if they were in the department's regular construction schedule.

"The project is at the request of the city of Bryant," Straessle said. "They contributed $2 million. We're just adding ramps to make it a standard diamond interchange. It's pretty simple."

Many of the other projects on which bids were opened Wednesday were heavily concentrated on maintenance, or what the department refers to as "system preservation."

"It's not as high profile as a new project," Straessle said. "Taking care of what we've got is a lot of what we do. You will be seeing a lot more of that."

Metro on 01/19/2017

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