DURHAM — The City of Durham isnt letting a little thing like money hold up the American Tobacco Trail bridge over Interstate-40 this time.
Contractors bids came in more than $2 million over budget, and the project faced another in a years-long sequence of delays. Nevertheless, said public works engineering manager Ed Venable, Our plan is to make this happen.
The way he plans to do that is to delay other projects and apply their funding to the bridge, he told the City Council this afternoon.
Councilman Mike Woodard asked Venable for a report during today's council work session after the News & Observer reported the financing problem online this morning.
The Tobacco Trail bridge project, near The Streets at Southpoint, has been through a litany of holdups since 1999, when the city put the bridge on its wish list for the NCDOT.
Design, redesign, city reorganization, inflating construction costs, permitting, and other complications have intervened again and again.
At last, in May, with all the needed permits in hand (including the state Department of Transportations permission to use its air rights over I-40) it looked likely that construction could start late this year or early next.
But when bids were opened July 15, the lowest was $7.75 million. Estimates had been that the $5.65 million committed would be enough to get the job done.
The project faced yet another delay while the city examined its options.
Besides the bridge itself, the pending project includes finishing a 4.2-mile trail segment, part of which remains unpaved. Venable said money on hand is almost enough for the bridge; the rest will come from elsewhere in the budget.
My first priority is that we get the bridge built, said City Manager Tom Bonfield.
Venable said cost projections were so far off because of a large increase in steel prices, and the project consultants, the international Parsons Brinkerhoff firm, underestimated the labor involved.
The bridge will complete a 22-mile trail from downtown Durham to New Hill in southwest Wake County.
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