Galena Bridge

A North Dakota company went $75 million over an estimate for a major northern Nevada freeway project that includes a huge, behind-schedule bridge, with an apparent low bid Thursday of $393.4 million.

Nevada Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Magruder said Fisher Sand & Gravel Co. of Dickinson, N.D., came in under the only other bidder, Kiewit Western Co. of Concord, Calif., which proposed to do the work for just under $415 million.

If the contract is awarded to Fisher, it would be the largest single contract in NDOT history, Magruder said. But he added that the agency is considering options that include rebidding or "repackaging" the project into lower-cost increments.

Magruder said the agency's engineers had estimated the cost of the 8.5-mile-long stretch of new, six-lane freeway, including four bridge structures, at $318 million. The job is a key element of a new freeway between Reno and Carson City.

One of the freeway bridges, towering 300 feet above Galena Creek, will be 1,790 feet long when completed. That will make it one of the longest structures of its sort in the nation.

Completion of the long bridge fell behind schedule earlier this year when a company that had an $80 million contract to build it stopped work because of what it considered safety concerns. Wisconsin-based Edward Kraemer & Sons got $50 million of its money.

Magruder said the delays on the arched bridge may have added up to $15 million to the overall project costs. But he said the most expensive part of the job involves the extensive bulldozing and other work necessary to carve out the roadway in foothills above existing U.S. 395.

The state had hoped to have the entire project between Reno and Carson City done by 2009, although completion has now been pushed
back to 2011.

The freeway, when completed, is expected to handle up to 40,000 cars per day. It would be just west and upslope of U.S. 395's current route. The southern extension of the project eventually will tie into U.S. 50, the highway at the base of Spooner Summit that leads to Lake Tahoe and over the Sierra into California.