It might be another tough year for Bartholomew County taxpayers to get their money’s worth in road and bridge repairs.
While five construction firms picked up information packets regarding approved improvements to the scenic Possum Glory Bridge in Hawcreek Township, only one company expressed an interest in doing the work.
While the sole bid was almost $50,000 higher than the county highway engineer’s estimate, the Bartholomew County Commissioners went ahead and accepted the $448,947 bid from Trisler Construction of Indianapolis.
“Being that it’s currently closed and that we’re trying to get it open, I recommend we award it,” Bartholomew County Highway engineer Danny Hollander said of the bridge contract.
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The 130-foot-long, one-lane truss structure over Clifty Creek was closed in December for the second time in four years.
Planned renovations for the structure along County Road 1150E north of Hartsville include replacing deteriorating parts, truss repairs, replacing crumbling end posts and painting.
Now that measures taken to shore up the county’s employee health care fund appear to be effective, bridge repairs have emerged as one of this year’s top priorities in county government, Bartholomew County Council president Bill Lentz said.
The decision by four of the five interested contractors not to submit an offer to do the bridge work may simply be a reluctance to do extensive repairs on a 105-year-old bridge, Hollander said.
However, their reluctance could also mean that — like last year — local construction firms have their hands so full working on more profitable private projects that it will drive up the cost of publicly funded road and bridge projects, Hollander said.
When bids are received for a new bridge project along County Road 750E near Quarry Ridge Golf Course later this spring, county officials will have a better idea of what to expect on bridge projects for the rest of the year, the highway engineer said.