By Ed Runyan
A highly competitive bidding process by two Youngstown companies has resulted in a considerably lower price than estimated for the Olive Street bridge project in Niles.
A.P. O’Horo recently offered the low bid of $3.654 million, which is well below the $5.5 million engineer’s estimate. Second-lowest bidder was Marucci and Gaffney of Youngstown at $3.768 million.
It is expected that the contract will be awarded in the next couple of weeks, said Gary Shaffer, an engineer with the Trumbull County Engineer’s Office.
The project is 100 percent funded by state and federal grants, so the lower cost doesn’t directly affect the county engineer’s office and its budget, Shaffer said.
But using less of the state grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission and federal grant from the Federal Highway Administration means Trumbull County and Mahoning County government bodies — including the Trumbull engineer’s office — will have more money available for future projects, Shaffer said.
The Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, a regional planning agency for Mahoning and Trumbull counties, approved the state and federal funding for the Olive Street project. Decisions made by Eastgate come from its members, who represent governmental agencies in the two counties, according to Eastgate’s public information officer, Lisa Pompeo.
The additional money left because of the lower-than-expected bid stays with Eastgate to award to one or more other projects.
“It’s nice to be able to go back to Eastgate to get additional funding,” Shaffer said of the remaining funds that will be left as a result of the bid.
Shaffer said he already asked Eastgate for a little more than $100,000 for another Trumbull County project not long after the Olive Street bids were opened.
“Six months ago, I wouldn’t have had that money. It wouldn’t have been available, but because the bid was so low, I knew the money would be there.”
Shaffer said he believes the bid was lower than expected because there is more competition for larger projects and because two Youngstown companies that know each other well were involved in the bidding.
That means they had a good idea what the other would bid, Shaffer said.
Planning for replacing the bridge has been ongoing since about 2008.
The bridge, which spans the Mahoning River and Norfolk and Southern Railroad, has been closed since 2009.
Replacement should begin in March, and the bridge is likely to reopen in fall 2015.
The bridge’s closing increased the travel time between McDonald and Niles by about 15 minutes, Shaffer said.