Wednesday was a big day for the long-delayed, much-anticipated, $200-million Highway 100 extension project in Cedar Rapids.
The Iowa Department of Transportation opened bids on a large piece of the first phase of the two-phase, 7.5-mile project in a bid package that includes a new four-lane bridge over the Cedar River as well as bridges over Old Ferry and Usherís Ferry roads and related road grading.
Four contractors bid on the project with Peterson Contractors Inc. of Reinbeck, Iowa, submitting the apparent low bid of $46,648,099.
The bid was less than half of one percent lower than the bid from Cramer & Associates/United Contractors of suburban Des Moines, which bid $46,827,327 for the project.
C.J. Moyna & Sons of Elkader, Iowa, bid $48,635,005 and Jensen Construction of Des Moines bid $49,820,693.
Cathy Cutler, a planner in the DOTís district office in Cedar Rapids, on Wednesday said the apparent low bid is below ó 4.4 percent below ó the DOTís pre-bid estimate for the work, which was $48,845,500.
Cutler said the bid letting was a "big day" for the highway project.
She said the DOTís Office of Contracts will review the bids before extending a contract to a contractor. The contract usually goes to the contractor in about a week, she said.
Work will begin in the months ahead.
The projectís first phase runs from Edgewood Road to Covington Road (also known as F Avenue NW), and a second phase from Covington Road to Highway 30.
The first phase is expected to be opened in 2018; the entire highway by 2020.
Last year, the DOT took a small first step on the project by constructing a new pond next to the Rock Island Preserve off 42nd Street NE for turtles that will be affected by the new highway. Right now, the DOT is building a wildlife underpass under the highway alignment near the new pond. Tree clearing also is taking place.
Additional bids for the project are slated to be opened in March and April related to additional grading for the first phase of the project as well as for new bridges at Edgewood Road and Covington Road, Cutler said.
The Edgewood Road interchange will feature a single point urban interchange ó SPUI in DOT parlance ó similar to the Interstate 35 interchange at Mills Civic Parkway in West Des Moines. Traffic signals for all left-turn exits from Highway 100, left-turn on-ramps from Edgewood Road and through traffic on Edgewood Road will be at one spot in the middle of the Edgewood Road bridge over Highway 100.
Scott Olson, Cedar Rapids council member and a Realtor for Skogman Commercial, has said the Highway 100 extension will give the city the largest expansion of new ground for development that the city has ever seen at one time.
"This is property that is going to change the face of Cedar Rapids," Olson has said
Opponents of the project succeeded in delaying the project for years because of its proximity to the Rock Island Preserve even as local elected officials and community leaders continued to advocate for the project at every turn.