Higgins Avenue Bridge project could be delayed as bid doubles expected cost

Reconstruction of the Higgins Avenue Bridge was scheduled to begin next month, though the project may be delayed. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current file photo)

Having received a single bid for the rehabilitation of the Higgins Avenue Bridge, the Montana Department of Transportation said Friday it may be forced to delay the project.

The bid received during this week’s opening from Frontier West came in at $37.7 million, well above the $16.6 million budgeted for the project.

While MDT officials were not immediately available for comment, the public relations firm handling the project said the agency will finalize its recommendations to the Montana Transportation Commission early next week.

The transportation commission has until Dec. 20 to decide whether or not the project is awarded.

“Review of the project will likely extend into the coming weeks,” Friday’s announcement read. “As such, construction on the Higgins Avenue Bridge may be delayed. If the commission decides to reject the current bid, a new schedule will be required.”

Work was intended to begin next month.

The city of Missoula and MDT entered into an agreement in July guiding the rehabilitation of the 55-year-old bridge. Under the agreement, the city’s share stood at $1.7 million. It wasn’t immediately known how the high bid would affect the agreement.

Katie Klietz with Big Sky Public Relations said the potential delay won’t put the project’s future in jeopardy.

“The Higgins Avenue Bridge continues to be structurally sound and a potential delay in the construction schedule poses no risk to the traveling public,” Klietz said. “MDT understands that this project is very important to our community and is dedicated to developing the best solution for all involved.”

The Missoula Current will follow up on this story throughout the day.