Twin K. Construction of Helenwood, Tennessee has been awarded the bid to build the new Holmes Creek Road Bridge over Fall Creek.
In order to expedite the project, the Smithville Mayor and Board of Aldermen met in special session Monday evening to award the bid rather than wait until the next regular meeting on September 12.
Twin K’s bid of $687,791 was the lowest of the five bids submitted and was recommended for approval by the city’s engineer for the project, Professional Engineering Services in Sparta. In addition to the construction bid, other added costs including engineering, design, and inspection fees, geotechnical exploration, right of way, temporary construction easement, asbestos study, and permits, puts the total project at $778,655.
The city will be required to fund a grant match of 25% or $196,625 toward the project.
Kyle Hazel, Civil Engineer of Professional Engineering Services, who met with the mayor and aldermen Monday night, said the paperwork will now go to the Tennessee Department of Transportation for a contract to be drafted and approved, which could take four to six weeks, and then Twin K will have 180 days to build the bridge. “We did specify 180 calendar days from the date of notice to proceed. That is a fair and reasonable time frame knowing the season we will be entering during that 180 days. If we send this (paperwork) out (Tuesday) to TDOT to start drafting a contract to be signed by the mayor within the next week then hopefully by the middle of September we will have notification from Nashville that the TDOT Commissioner has signed the contract between the City of Smithville and TDOT. We will then have a preconstruction meeting. The contracts will be executed at that time between the city and the contractor and a notice to proceed will be issued to the contractor and they will be expected to go to work immediately. From the time we issue them a notice to proceed at the preconstruction meeting, that is when that 180 day time clock will start ticking,” said Hazel.
According to Hazel, Twin K Construction should be available to start the project as soon as they receive notice to proceed. “We had five contractors submitting bids and the lowest qualified bidder we determined was Twin K Construction. We have worked with them in a couple of other counties on these type projects before and have found their work to be adequate. The biggest concern that we had on this project was timing for completion because this bridge has been shut down since October. We know that time is of the essence. Everybody wants it sooner than later. I asked Twin K what their current work load was going to be in the future and they indicated to me that they were not terribly busy right now,” said Hazel.
The project is being funded under the state's Bridge Grant Program but the matching cost to the city is going to be much more than originally anticipated.
Hazel explained that under the grant program, DeKalb County is allocated funds for certain bridge construction projects but the amount of available grant money is not as much as initially anticipated for this project because the state has taken a share from the grant balance for past projects. The result is that the city will have to fund a larger grant match.
”Whenever I asked for confirmation from TDOT officials I received information that wasn’t necessarily pleasing. They said there had been a $70,000 reduction in the grant fees or grant balance due to a federal bridge project that was done in this county many years ago. When TDOT manages a project for you as a local government they sometimes take five or six years to close out a project. For example, the bridge over Smith Fork on the Alexandria to Dismal Road was a federally funded project. There is another one in the Dry Creek area. There could be others I am not aware of. But under the Federal Bridge Grant Program, 80% is funded. Sixteen percent can be matched under this bridge grant balance that you (city) are using to build this bridge (Holmes Creek Road Bridge), and four percent is paid for by the local government. When TDOT closes out these projects many years later, they come in and settle up their books and they reach into whichever account that payment needs to come from and they take it. Unfortunately in this case that is what they did late in the last fiscal year. They got $70,000 from the bridge grant fund (for DeKalb County). They have the authority to do that. The bridge grant monies that are available to apply to this project is $582,000 but in order to fully fund it the City of Smithville needs to match the 75% grant with 25% in local funds to the tune of $200,000,”said Kyle.
The bridge, at the bottom of town hill behind Love-Cantrell Funeral Home, has been closed since October 30.
The state forced the City of Smithville to close the bridge due to a Tennessee Department of Transportation Evaluation Report which detailed various bridge deficiencies making it potentially unsafe.