Bridging the gap

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Missouri has 800 bridges that need repairs. The Missouri Department of Transportation is looking for teams of contractors to bid on a single contract for the design, construction and maintenance for 25 years of these bridges. MoDOT believes the repairs will go faster and cost less this way rather than bidding each bridge repair as a separate project. The cost of this effort, which MoDOT would like to have completed by 2012, is estimated to be $400 million to $600 million.

A legal hang-up over performance bonds for the bridge repairs is delaying the process. Missouri law generally requires a performance bond both in the amount of the contract and for its entire duration. But potential bidders say it would be impossible to get a single performance bond that large and for that amount of time.

MoDOT lawyers believe the state's highway agency can set annual performance bonds that would equal the cost of construction in any single year. But the bidders would like to see the state law changed to that effect to avoid any confusion. A bill that would have accomplished that failed in this year's legislative session.

Every month these repairs are delayed is another month motorists must drive over bridges in need of repair. It would be in the best interests of highway safety to resolve this bonding issue as quickly as possible.

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