The Iowa contractors chosen to rebuild Interstate 680 between the Missouri River and Interstate 29 have until Dec. 23 to open a lane of traffic in each direction along the obliterated 3.1-mile stretch, roads officials said.
Getting the freeway open by then would mean Christmastime relief for drivers of the 19,000 or so vehicles that normally use that stretch of I-680.
Doing so on or before the holidays could mean thousands, even millions, in bonuses for the contractors: Peterson Contractors of Reinbeck and Reilly Construction of Ossian. Their winning bid for the job: $19.2 million.
The sooner the work is done, the more federal disaster aid dollars will be available for Iowa. That's a big reason the Iowa Department of Transportation fast-tracked its bidding process and a big reason for the aggressive construction schedule.
Workers were already on-site Monday, one of the contractors told The World-Herald, and construction is set to begin soon.
“It takes a certain amount of guts just to bid these things,” said Bob Younie, state maintenance engineer for the Iowa Department of Transportation. “You have to have some confidence in what you're doing.”
Missouri floodwaters crumbled the segment of I-680 between northernmost Omaha and Crescent, Iowa.
By Friday, contractors had submitted five bids to repair the roadway.
The new road will occupy the same footprint as the old, so lengthy steps such as environmental impact statements are not required, officials said.
“We're going to see a modern version of what was there,” Younie said.
The contract contains a variety of incentives and disincentives. For example: $80,000 per calendar day will be paid for each day prior to Dec. 23 that I-680 is open to two-way traffic. An additional incentive of $2,000 per day will be paid for each day prior it is open to four lanes of traffic.
If four lanes of I-680 are open on or before Nov. 20, an additional bonus of $2 million will be paid, plus the daily $82,000. That dovetails with the Nov. 21 deadline for full federal reimbursement.
If they take too long, the contractors will be assessed a similar fee per day past Dec. 23, though Iowa made an allowance for the difficulty of winter work. No penalty will be assessed from January through March.
The full project is to be completed by June 1.
Emergency accelerations of such repairs are common after floods and other disasters, Younie said. “It's worked very well for the motorists, for the citizens, because we are able to restore roads to travel and improve mobility,” he said.
And the work will be held to the quality standards of regular Interstate work, he said.
Both contractors have a long history of working Iowa's roads, including the rebuilding of Interstate 235 in Des Moines in the past decade, Younie said.
“I don't have any reason to believe (I-680) won't be every bit as good or better than what was there,” he said.
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