PALMYRA, Mo. -- Marion County commissioners got some good news Monday when the apparent low bid for a new bridge over the North Fabius River near Taylor came in well below expectations.
"It's a very, very good bid," Jim Bensman, vice president of MECO Engineering, told commissioners after he opened the bid from Bleigh Construction of Hannibal.
Bleigh offered to build the bridge for $884,083, which is significantly below the engineer's cost estimate of $1,075,770. The only other bid was submitted by Klocke Inc. of Palmyra for $1,797,910.
Bensman said he would analyze both bids carefully before issuing a formal recommendation to the commission sometime Tuesday. All preliminary signs were pointing favorably toward the likely approval of Bleigh's bid.
"I'm thrilled with that," said Eastern District Commissioner Larry Welch.
Commissioners said they want to expedite the project in the hope that the new bridge can be completed by the end of this year, barring any weather-related delays.
"We need to get the ball rolling on this," Welch said.
Presiding Commissioner David Lomax said the bid documents specified that the work had to be completed within 90 working days of the contract being awarded. Under that scenario, he said, the bridge could conceivably be completed by the end of October if all goes well.
"That would be fabulous," Lomax said.
The current bridge on County Road 313 was shut down in November 2017 after an inspection by the Missouri Department of Transportation showed severe rust and deterioration had occurred throughout the structure, built in 1929. The bridge inspector said the bridge could no longer safely hold the weight of a car and urged that it be taken out of service immediately.
Commissioners hoped to push ahead quickly with bridge-replacement plans because the bridge was used frequently by local farmers who considered it a safe route for moving heavy farm equipment and machinery without having to venture onto busy U.S. Routes 61 and 24.
However, the project was held up for months by the need to obtain a "Section 408" permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This permit was needed because the construction plan had to take into consideration any possible impact on the Fabius River Drainage District's levee. The corps finally issued the permit several weeks ago, thereby allowing the bidding process to proceed.
In other action Monday, commissioners learned the county may not have to reduce the load limit, as expected, on an aging bridge along County Road 302. Teya Stice, the county's land-use and capital-improvements coordinator, said a bridge inspector said the county instead could install several four-inch-thick steel plates at key locations to stabilize the bridge deck.
"He said this is only a temporary fix -- five to 10 years," Stice said.
"Five or 10 years would help us out a lot," Welch replied, noting how repairing the bridge would be much more affordable than having to replace the entire structure now.
The commission agreed to sell a piece of tax delinquent property at 2117 Gordon St. in Hannibal for $125 to Christina Nicole Roland, who lives nearby.