Bids opened in Indian River Inlet Bridge project

With a contract for the design and construction of the new Indian River Inlet Bridge expected to be awarded in July, Skanska USA Civil Southeast Inc. is the apparent winning design-build team for the project, which could start construction in early fall, to carry traffic no later than December 2011.

Skanska put in a bid of $149,970,400 for the project, just under the project’s cost estimate of $150 million. They had a weighted technical score of 24.9630, with a total score of 24.9837 for the two aspects of the bid combined — with both the lowest bid and the highest in technical scores among the three approved bidders for the project.

The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) publicly opened the bids June 25 and is now expected to review them during the next 30 days and to award the contract next month.

The other bidding teams were:

• Indian River Constructors, a joint venture of Flatiron Constructors Inc. and Kiewit Construction Inc, with a bid of $156,648,000; and

• PCL Civil Constructors Inc., with a bid of $153,249,007.

All three teams have previous experience in long-span cable-stay bridge design and construction, which is the type of work involved in constructing the new bridge over the inlet. They were selected as finalists to bid on the project after submissions from prospective bidders were received in response to DelDOT’s October 2007 Request for Qualifications.

With the awarding of the contract in July, pre-construction work could start in early fall, according to DelDOT Director of Public Relations Darrel Cole.

The new bridge is to be 2,600 feet long, including 900 feet for the clear span over the inlet and 1,700 feet of bridge over land, all supported by piers in the ground. The new bridge has all of its piers out of the water, as piers in the water is a major problem with the existing span, since scouring from the extremely fast tide in the inlet has undermined the long-term stability of that bridge.

The life estimate of the existing span has been variously estimated at ending anywhere between 2008 and 2012 — the latter being the most recent DelDOT figure. DelDOT has installed monitoring equipment on the bridge and conducts regular safety checks of the span and its support structure, saying it will close the span if any indication of failure is detected.

Work to remove excess material from the embankments leading to the new bridge span began late this spring, after the material did not settle as quickly or well as required to be the base of the new bridge as originally designed. The concept design of bridge was changed as a result, using longer ramps with a lower slope, leading to its clear span over the inlet.