IL Bridge Rehab Project Still Unable to Find Bids
Last month, Riverside Township officials reported that its third attempt to receive bids for a bridge rehabilitation project was unsuccessful. The project involves removing and replacing the coating on the structure, as well as performing some structural repairs.
The H. Wallace Caldwell Memorial Bridge, also known as the Swinging Bridge, is 210-feet long cable suspension bridge over the Des Plaines River in Illinois. The bridge was originally built in 1940 and rebuilt in 2002. The last coating work was completed in 2011.
Lack of Bidding
In November, it was reported that the Riverside Board of Trustees were having trouble getting bids for coating the rusting and flaking bridge last year. An inspection of the bridge in 2020 found that the coating applied in 2011 was in a state of “widespread failure.”
“The bridge likely did not have proper surface preparation for the last coating project,” the report concluded. The coating had reportedly been expected to last 25-30 years but has already began flaking.
In January 2020, the Riverside Township Board of Trustees voted unanimously to hire API Architects to manage the project. Reported by The Riverside-Brookfield Landmark, API recommended removing all existing coatings, dirt, oil and rust from the bridge prior to applying new coating. After receiving no response from seeking bids in the spring and summer, trustees reached out directly to firms for proposals.
The township board budgeted $75,000 for the project in its 2021-2022 budget, but the two bids are more than expected. Lakes and Rivers Contracting July proposal was priced at $725,000, citing a need to abate lead paint, while Era Valdiva Contractors Inc. proposed at an amount of $155,000.
The proposal from Era Valdiva Contractors Inc. did not meet API’s specifications to completely remove the existing coating, instead proposing using liquid detergent and hand tools to prepare the surface.
“This will not remove the existing coating and will result in less optimal adhesion of the new coating and was not recommended by the coating manufacturer,” wrote Ken Nadolski, principal of API Architects, in the company’s August report to township trustees.
Era Valdiva reportedly told API Architects it would resubmit to meet their specifications, but it was never updated.
Nadolski also noted that the project is “extremely small” and not worth it to firms looking for large-scale work through agencies like the Illinois Department of Transportation. The Landmark reported that the township board was trying to find a way to scale back the scope of the work to make it affordable, if they can find a company to complete the project.
Third Attempt, Scaling Back
The latest bidding, which was formally announced in May, received no bids by the June 22 deadline. Riverside Township Supervisor Vera Wilt broke the bad news to trustees at their meeting on July 13.
She also suggested to the board that she work with the Nadolski to reduce the scope of work in order to attract bids for a smaller scale project. This would involve separating structural repairs from the project, as well as foregoing a complete coating removal and replacement. Instead, the exposed, rusted sections of the bridge would be scraped, and a surface paint job would be completed.
“I’ve asked the architect to let me know how we can break down the project into essential repairs and aesthetically coating it with the least disturbance of potential lead [paint] issues,” Wilt said. Additionally, she added choosing a scaled-back solution will mean the township board must accept that the bridge will need more frequent touchups if it cannot afford or find any company to do a full coating removal/replacement.
“I don’t want the bridge to go another winter without, at least, a perfunctory coating,” Wilt said.
However, that “perfunctory” coating job might not even fall within the township’s budget.
Nadolski will reportedly prepare a proposal for new bid documents that Wilt suggested. This is expected to be presented to the board at its next meeting on Aug. 2.