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Bids to build a new dock at the Port of Little Rock came in higher than expected, but the port's top official said last week that he believes he can work with the chosen contractor to reduce the $5.2 million price tag.

Massman Construction Co. of Overland Park, Kan., submitted the lowest bid to build the 300-foot dock and add a 3,000-foot rail spur that will eventually allow cargo to be transferred between barges and rail cars. The company was one of four contractors to submit bids, the highest of which was nearly $8.9 million.

The low bid was $1.2 million more than what the port had budgeted for the project, Bryan Day, the port's executive director, told the Little Rock Port Authority's board of directors at its monthly meeting.

The bid more than offset savings the port realized when it recently completed adding a mile of railroad track for $1.8 million, which was $900,000 less than the expected cost.

The new rail was the first of four projects the port is building using proceeds from a $6.5 million federal grant and $4.5 million bond issue.

Together, the first two projects are $300,000 over budget. Day told the board that he wanted to reduce the cost of the dock project by as much as $500,000 to allow the port "a little of a cushion" if the costs of the additional projects come in above estimates.

"We're going to do everything we can to negotiate this down $400,000 or $500,000," he said. "We believe we have an approach that gets us there and allows us to get started. We have a timeline we have to meet with the federal government. I'm optimistic that we can make these reductions and move forward with the project."

The potential reductions range from changing the type of steel for the project, for a savings of $28,000, to changing the approach to excavation, which could save $170,000, Day said.

He identified at least two things that drove up the price of the dock.

For one, Day said, "We had very few bidders. Over a dozen [contractors] asked for packages but only four bid. Contractors are busy. They just don't need the work."

Another factor was the cost of steel "due to tariffs, trade policies and rhetoric," he said. "There's nothing we can do about that."

Board member Bobby Brown, upon learning that the application for the grant was written in 2015, said conditions today were unforeseen three or four years ago.

"The world has changed," he said.

Board chairman Melissa Hendricks suggested the port has money available to cover the additional costs of the project.

"We can use our own money," she said.

Day responded that he "has other plans for your money."

Day previously said he wanted money available if needed to spend on infrastructure such as roads, additional rail and other site preparation work in the event a significant economic development project materialized.

Other phases of the project include a warehouse and office space as well as the systems needed to allow cargo to be transferred between rail and barges.

Business on 04/18/2019

Print Headline: Price for Little Rock port's new dock at $5.2M

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  • eaglescout
    April 18, 2019 at 9:49 a.m.

    "We can use our own money," she said. Day responded that he "has other plans for your money". Sounds like some mighty fine socialist talk there, dude.

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