CDOT eyes cost cuts, more funds for bridge
State highway officials are pondering how to trim costs and find more money to replace the Maroon Creek bridge on the outskirts of Aspen.The Colorado Department of Transportation was forced last week to reject both submitted bids for the project because they were more than 10 percent over the agency’s engineering estimates for the work.Now, CDOT is talking with construction contractors that purchased the bridge plans to see if the blueprints can be tweaked to cut costs, said Joe Elsen, program engineer in Glenwood Springs. “We’re trying to look at what we can do to economize the project,” he said. “We’re also trying to see if there’s money lying around that we can get our hands on.”Replacement of the state highway bridge is budgeted at $12.3 million. Pitkin County has already agreed to put $900,000 toward the cost.New bids will have to be solicited before the project goes forward, Elsen said.”I don’t think it could happen in less than a month, I hope it doesn’t go more than two months,” he said.CDOT had hoped work could begin in April with the relocation of electrical lines spanning the Maroon Creek gorge.There is no single element of the two bids that were submitted for the project that pushed costs above CDOT’s estimates. Rather, it was a lot of things, Elsen said.Soaring fuel prices are definitely a factor, he added. Contractors are eyeing the cost of fuel for equipment and the price of gasoline for workers who must travel to the site for roughly a year and a half of construction. Flaggers on local highway projects sometimes drive from as far as Grand Junction daily, Elsen noted.The Maroon Creek bridge, which carries Highway 82 in and out of Aspen, was originally built as a railroad trestle in 1888. It has required various structural repairs and has long been on CDOT’s priority list for replacement.The historic span will be retained to carry light rail, if that transit system materializes, but vehicular traffic will switch to the new bridge once it’s constructed.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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