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George Richey Road extension bid under budget

By Richard Yeakley
Jan. 16, 2014 at 11 p.m.

With a bid that was about $750,000 less than anticipated, Longview-based East Texas Bridge is expected to be the primary contractor for two segments of the George Richey Road extension.

The company is the apparent low bidder of the project, which will connect McCann Road to U.S. 259 north of Longview with a bid of about $12.9 million - about $750,000 less than original estimate for the project, according to Vernon Webb, director of transportation, planning and development with the Texas Department of Transportation.

The county, city, Longview Economic Development Corp., Longview Metropolitan Planning Organization and TxDOT have worked together to make the project a reality.

The more exciting day will be when a car drives down the completed road, said Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt.

Webb said while the bids for the project, which were opened Jan. 8, seemed to indicate East Texas Bridge was the lowest bidder, TxDOT employees would still have to monitor and review all of the contract documents before officially awarding the contract.

Work is expected to begin in April 2014. The contract allows for two years to complete the segments.

East Texas Bridge's bid fell short of the $13.64 million original projected cost, according to Webb, and was significantly lower than other bids.

Stoudt said there were five bids for the project, and one was as much as $16 million.

"It is great news that we are coming in on a major project under budget because we have been over budget in some other areas, like right-of-way acquisition," Longview Mayor Jay Dean said. "It will be good news, that hopefully we will be getting those funds back."

The original plan to call for bids in August would have given TxDOT time to repeat the process if no bids were acceptable. The bidding process was delayed twice.

The first delay occurred when officials thought they would get better bids if they waited until a less busy building period, and the second pause came when TxDOT tried to balance its letting statewide.

Stoudt said it was good to see the plan work.

"That was the reason they delayed the bidding process so this would happen," he said. "When you wait, people have a tendency to drop the pricing, and that is precisely what happened."

The $34.3 million east-west corridor through Longview is expected to open up hundreds of acres for development.

In the planning stages for many years, efforts were stepped up in 2011 when local entities committed $34 million to fund the project.

Gregg County committed $5 million; the city of Longview, $3 million; LEDCO, $3 million; the Longview Metropolitan Planning Organization, $3.5 million; and TxDOT, the remainder.

The thoroughfare will feature shoulders and a flush median curb and gutter system for 4.3 miles linking Texas 300 and U.S. 259.

The road will include four 12-foot travel lanes and a 16-foot continuous left turn lane with outside lanes that will be compatible for cycling.

Dean said he was happy the project could go to a Longview-based contractor.

"That's even more great news because that means local jobs here," he said. "The way the state statute reads, we have to take the lowest bid. This will provide good local jobs, and (East Texas Bridge) came in very competitive on a statewide bid."

Another segment, which will connect McCann Road to Texas 300, is expected to be let in April 2015.



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