ELKHART — The bids are in and construction of the Prairie Street railroad overpass will cost less than originally anticipated.
The Indiana Department of Transportation, which handled the bid process, opened the proposals last week and the lowest bid, $10.15 million, came from Rieth-Riley Construction of Goshen. The firm’s bid proposal was accepted and demolition of properties that’ll have to make way for the overpass is set to start this coming spring, Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore said in a press release Tuesday, Jan. 21.
Rieth-Riley’s bid came in lower than the original estimate, around $12.5 million, Moore’s press released noted. The bids from the other six companies that submitted proposals were also lower than the original estimate, ranging from $10.25 million to $11.01 million.
The $10.15 million would cover just construction costs. On top of that will be land acquisition, design and inspection costs, which will push the total estimated price tag of the project to around $17 million or $18 million, according to Mike Machlan, the city engineer. With the lower-than-anticipated bid from Rieth-Riley, though, that’s still lower than the earlier overall estimate of around $20 million.
Plans, expected to take three years to complete, call for construction of an overpass over the Norfolk Southern Railroad rail line that crosses Prairie Street between Main and Middlebury streets southeast of the city center. The frequent trains cause traffic back-ups when they pass and the aim is to end the congestion and turn Prairie Street into a more important north-south arterial.
Following demolition of the properties to make way for the overpass, Main Street between Prairie Street and Indiana Avenue will be torn up so a new storm sewer can be put in place, another facet of the plans, according to Machlan. That work, also entailing replacement of sanitary sewer and water lines, will extend through the winter of 2014-15, likely requiring the closure of Main Street for at least part of the time, according to Machlan.
Construction of the actual overpass will start once the Main Street work is completed, probably sometime in 2015.
Fourteen buildings in all are to be demolished to make way for the planned overpass, along Prairie Street from Main Street north to around the railroad crossing. Funding has been secured for the project, with roughly 80 percent coming from federal and state sources and the rest from local coffers.