The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has terminated the $23.4 million contract to rehabilitate the La. 511 Jimmie Davis Bridge.
LADOTD has terminated the contract with PCL Civil Constructors, Inc. because of the “inability to reach an agreement” on a plan or a price to address cliff swallows currently inhabiting the bridge. Cliff swallows are federally protected birds.
Cindy Dorfner, LADOTD Public Information Officer, said the project will be back on the DOTD’s agenda next month in order to start the bid process over again.
“It’s on the schedule to be let about a month from now (June 8),” Dorfner said, adding that plans will essentially remain the same. “We’re looking at any cost savings there might be and adding bird mitigation into the contract.”
PCL Civil Constructors Inc., which is based out of Tampa, FL, was the only company that bid on the project in 2014. Their price was about $3.2 million over DOTD’s estimated project cost of $20.2 million.
The project was initially supposed to start last May, but several delays pushed back the start date to this month.
“[The contractor] has been requesting and receiving extensions to the assembly period since last year,” she explained. “We thought we had a deal back in the fall. They were supposed to get started in October, but they said it would put them in a weird paint schedule and it would cost more money to get started then. They requested another extension until May and we just couldn’t come to an agreement on a plan or a price. We decided it was just best to terminate the contract.”
On a positive note, Dorfner said this most recent delay will allow construction on the Youree Drive/Kings Highway intersection in Shreveport to be completed, resulting in less headache and backups when coming over the Shreveport-Barksdale bridge into Shreveport.
“It will be a completely revamped, realigned intersection,” Dorfner said. “It’s going to be a pain when it closes, but it will help that they don’t have to drive around that as well.”
A news release sent Monday said DOTD is working diligently on the next steps to move forward with this project. Dorfner clarified that the money allocated for this rehabilitation will remain allocated to the La. 511 Jimmie Davis Bridge project.
While DOTD realizes the termination of the contract presents a delay of this project, they said it is imperative that the department act with the best interest of the state of Louisiana and its citizens in mind.
“We understand there is frustration, but we are completely sure of its safety,” Dorfner said. “Does it need rehab? Absolutely. If there was a safety issue, it would have been closed by now.”