The Arkansas Department of Transportation on Wednesday opened low bids worth $142 million on 31 construction projects, including a second try at a major widening project on the U.S. 412 corridor in northeast Arkansas.
The project to widen a 14.5-mile section of U.S. 412 between U.S. 67 in Lawrence County and Arkansas 41 in Greene County will cost $58.5 million if the department accepts the low bid from a joint venture involving Atlas Asphalt Inc. of Batesville and Delta Asphalt of Arkansas, which has several locations around the state.
The project will link Walnut Ridge and Paragould in northeast Arkansas with a four-lane highway and contribute to providing a four-lane highway across the northern tier of the state, providing drivers a route that is safer and can carry more traffic than the two-lane roads there now.
"It's an important project for the region to get that connector done between Paragould and [U.S.] 67 and open up that part of the corridor," said Alec Farmer, a member of the Arkansas Highway Commission from Jonesboro. "It's an important corridor in the state. Unfortunately, we have several of those and, once again, limited resources to address them all."
The joint venture beat out bids of $63.2 million from West Plains Bridge and Grading of West Plains, Mo., and $69.9 million from Johnson Bros. Corp., a Southland Co., of Roanoke, Texas.
Wednesday was the second time the department opened bids on the project. Agency officials rejected a $62.4 million bid in September as too high. It was the only bid the department received for that project.
Jared Wiley, head of the department's program management division, said Wednesday that agency engineers changed the bid specifications slightly. Notably, the new specifications required contractors to bid the number of work days instead of calendar days, a change that carries less risk for contractors, Wiley said.
The U.S. 412 project was one of two on which bids were opened involving regionally significant projects being built under the state's $1.8 billion Connecting Arkansas Program.
The program -- largely financed by a half-percent increase in the statewide sales tax that's in place for 10 years after voters approved it in 2012 -- focuses on nearly three dozen regionally significant projects on 19 corridors around the state. Altogether, they account for nearly 190 miles. The state highway system totals 16,000 miles.
The other project involved a 7.8-mile segment of U.S. 65 in Van Buren County between Clinton and Arkansas 110. Bobby Kennedy Construction of Quitman submitted the lowest of three bids, $33.9 million.
The project contributes to connecting Clinton and Harrison in Boone County with a four-lane highway.
To date, 11 projects worth $432 million and encompassing 61 miles have been completed under the Connecting Arkansas Program. Another nine projects worth $534 million and covering 46 miles are under construction.
Another notable project on which bids were opened was replacing a bridge over the Buffalo River on Arkansas 7 at Pruitt in Newton County. Pruitt is a popular point on the river, which is part of a national park.
The project also includes widening the highway in the vicinity of the bridge. It also includes replacing a bridge on Newton County Road 213 over Mill Creek.
The low bid was $13.5 million by Crouse Construction of Harrison. It bested four other bids ranging from $13.9 million to $16.8 million.
Metro on 01/17/2019
Print Headline: Highway bids opened on 31 projects in state