Completion of Bella Vista Bypass in Arkansas to cost $102 million

by Jeff Della Rosa (JDellaRosa@nwabj.com) 1,807 views 

Emery Sapp & Sons Inc. of Columbia, Mo., submitted two bids totaling $102.11 million for two projects to complete the Bella Vista Bypass, or Arkansas/Missouri Connector, in Arkansas.

Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT) opened bids for the projects in a bid letting Wednesday (July 24), and Emery Sapp & Sons was the apparent low bidder for the two projects. One is for a single-point urban interchange at U.S. Highway 71B and the other is for a 2.5-mile, four-lane divided highway, from Benton County Road 34 to the Missouri state line.  These projects were the two that were on hold until Missouri moved forward on building its portion of the Bella Vista Bypass.

Danny Straessle, public information officer for ArDOT, said if the bids are approved, work could start in 90 days. An ArDOT committee will check for errors in the bids before making recommendations to the director, who will determine whether to approve the bids.

The work would be a part of the $1.8 billion Connecting Arkansas Program, which was paid for with a half-cent sales tax that’s set to end in 2023. Voters in November 2012 approved the 10-year sales tax to pay for the bonds in the program.

With regard to the single-point urban interchange, Emery Sapp & Sons is expected to complete the project in about two years. The bid was for $66.59 million, which is higher than the bid submitted by Kolb Grading LLC of St. Charles, Mo. Straessle explained that Emery Sapp & Sons was the apparent low bidder based on how many days it would take to complete the project. Kolb Grading submitted a bid for $60.92 million, but would complete the project in more than three years, the bid shows.

“To us, time is money,” Straessle said. “And we may be paying in the neighborhood of $6 million more for that bid, but if they can do it in a years less time, then that’s worth it. That’s money well spent, or invested, if you will.”

Emery Sapp & Sons is expected to complete the 2.5-mile portion of the bypass to the state line in a year, according to the bid. Its bid for the project was $35.52 million. Kolb Grading submitted the second-lowest bid at $37.52 million, but would take more than a year to complete the project.

When asked if enough bids were received, Straessle said only one bid could be received and still be enough. Nine contractors could have bid on the interchange project but only two did. With regard to the 2.5-mile highway project, four contractors submitted bids, out of 10 potential bidders. The other two bids were from McGeorge Contracting Co. of Pine Bluff, with a $39.12 million bid, and APAC-Central Inc. of Fayetteville, with a $42.84 million bid. The latter two bidders had planned to take at least two years to complete the project. ArDOT doesn’t release its engineer’s estimates for the projects, Straessle said, adding that it allows bidders to provide the lowest possible bids.

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