City of Springfield delays plans for improvements to Commercial Street Footbridge

Historic Jefferson Ave. Footbridge to be update, city is accepting bids
Historic Jefferson Ave. Footbridge to be update, city is accepting bids(ky3)
Published: Dec. 7, 2021 at 5:06 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - City leaders in Springfield delayed plans to improve the Commercial Street footbridge after the construction bid costs doubled the original estimate.

Public Works staff updated the Springfield City Council on the results of a bid process for the rehabilitation of the Jefferson Avenue Footbridge, a historic pedestrian bridge built in 1902 that spans the railroad tracks north of Historic Commercial Street. Bid results were nearly double the cost of a roughly $3 million dollar engineering estimate on the historic structure, which was closed in 2016 due to safety concerns following a routine inspection. A detailed structural evaluation concluded that nearly 40% of the bridge needs to be repaired or strengthened and the paint system is failing and no longer protecting against corrosion.

The city received final approval from the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to request bids on the project this fall after an extensive public engagement and planning process involving multiple local, state, and national agencies. The design goals are to fully rehabilitate the bridge and retain its historical significance and bring it under compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.

The City conducted a variety of outreach and publicity efforts in hopes of attracting a large number of qualified bids, according to Public Works Assistant Director Martin Gugel. Those efforts included:

  • Direct outreach to contractors referred by BNSF and Great River Engineering, and to membership of Springfield Contractor’s Association (SCA) and Associated General Contractors (AGC)
  • Posted on MoDOT’s website
  • Highly publicized with media coverage locally and nationwide
  • Hosted optional Pre-Bid Meeting – well attended
  • Pushed back bid deadline following contractor requests

Gugel cited the bidding environment - material prices, the labor-intensive nature of the project, subcontractor/contractor availability, and the risk of working on the bridge over an active railroad as potential reasons the bids were considerably higher than the original estimate.

Planned funding sources for the bridge rehabilitation included 80% of federal Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG) funds with a 20% local match from various funding sources, including the 1/4-cent Capital Improvement and 1/8-cent Transportation sales taxes. The match also relies on $50,000 raised by Commercial Street supporters.

As the administrator of federal STBG funding, MoDOT must review and concur with the awarding of a bid on the project. After consulting with MoDOT on the two submitted bids, MoDOT indicated they would not award the project to either company.

“Due to difficulties with labor shortages and scheduling conflicts, both contractors struggled to provide documentation of the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) requirement within a three-day post-bid window,” explained Gugel. “Upon review of the documentation and good faith effort on the part of both companies, MoDOT indicated they would not concur with awarding either proposal.”

With the acceptance of a bid no longer an option at this time, the city council considered funding options for the potential rebidding of the project at a later date. Council directed staff to continue research as further details are released regarding federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal funding. Members also asked Public Works to look into improvements of the appearance of the bridge closure as well as potential enhancements to alternate pedestrian routes at Washington and Lyon avenues.

About the Jefferson Avenue Footbridge:

  • Constructed in 1902.
  • Transfer of ownership to the City in 1998.
  • Minimal Bridge Rehabilitation in 2002.
  • Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.
  • Icon of Springfield History and symbol of Northside.
  • Transportation connection and significant to C-Street business district.

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