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Date of Issue: February 02, 2006

Bridge bids too high

Bids for the proposed new Key Royale Bridge in Holmes Beach were opened by the Florida Department of Transportation Monday, but the results, to say the least, were disappointing.

According to Mayor Carol Whitmore, the lowest bid was for $3.5 million, about $900,000 higher than the DOT's estimate of costs. A second bid was for $7 million.

Whitmore said the DOT will investigate why the lowest bid was so much higher than the construction estimate before making any decision on whether or not to seek further bids.

The DOT's original estimate for the new bridge was $1.9 million, but that was revised last year to $2.6 million, even though the DOT's own engineers at the time said bids would likely be much higher than that estimate.

The city commission has approved a measure to borrow up to $3.9 million to pay for the new bridge with interest only payments and the DOT has pledged to repay the money in its 2007-08 budget.

Construction was slated to begin within a few days after a bid was selected, but Whitmore said she has no time frame from the DOT on when it will make a decision on the current low bid.