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Tama’s historic Lincoln Highway Bridge was built in 1915 and is now the subject of a planned restoration effort by the City of Tama in partnership with the Iowa Department of Transportation. – News Chronicle File Photo

An effort to repair one of Tama’s oldest infrastructure encountered another obstacle.

In early October, Tama City Council heard from engineering firm Shuck-Britson regarding offers to repair the historic Lincoln Highway Bridge on 5th Street in Tama.

The problem at the October 4 meeting was that the three offers received were significantly higher than expected.

The lowest bid of $ 338,873 was more than double the estimated cost of $ 150,000 the city acquired in 2020.

Following the October 4 board meeting, it was not yet clear whether the Iowa DOT would commit to funding the remaining balance of the project if the total cost was more than estimated.

According to City Clerk Alyssa Devig, Iowa DOT officials informed the city shortly after the council meeting that they would be willing to continue funding the project, even at a higher cost than initially estimated.

For the moment, the city is not obliged to finance part of the bridge project. Grants and donations for the project in the amount of $ 69,000 have already been secured from the Lincoln Highway Association, Prairie Rivers of Iowa and the Mansfield Foundation as well as private donors. The Iowa DOT then planned to cover the rest of the costs.

However, on October 12, the Iowa DOT informed the city that none of the bidders would be awarded the project due to missing instructions in the tender documents. According to the Iowa code, construction projects involving state agencies should endeavor to contact small businesses targeted for work performed on the project.

No documentation of such an effort was provided by Shuck-Britson, the engineering firm overseeing the tendering process on behalf of the city.

Now, for the project to move forward, the city would have to relaunch construction offers, but could not do so before January 2022.

The same companies could resubmit bids for the project, but the fear is that with the opening of the initial bids during the October 4 public hearing, the lowest bidder could raise their price knowing that they was the cheapest offer over $ 100,000 earlier this year. month.

Although the board agreed that no decision could be made until the next round of tenders is completed, several members questioned whether the most appropriate solution for the bridge would be to remove the guide rails and historic street lights and install a box culvert that would be less expensive. to be maintained and more conducive to truck traffic entering the city via US Highway 30.

If this happens, elements of the current bridge could be moved to a park or other designated area of ​​the city.

The question that was raised during the discussion was that the life of the bridge, if it were to undergo historic rehabilitation, would be 15 years. Considering the length of the process over the past five years to secure funds for the historic preservation effort, the prospect of starting all over again in about 10 years has seemed daunting to some.

Conversely, the life of the box culvert option would also be 15 years, but repair, maintenance and replacement would be less expensive and more routine for contractors or government agencies to undertake.

Once the Tama Council reissues the bids in January, it is expected that this second bidding process will be completed by February. According to Devig, the timeline leading to the project’s completion date in August 2022 would remain intact if a contract was awarded again this winter.

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