In December, City of Springfield Public Works staff updated City Council on the results of a bid process for the rehabilitation of the Jefferson Avenue Footbridge, a historic pedestrian bridge built in 1902 that spans the railroad tracks north of Historic Commercial Street and connects Commercial Street to the Woodland Heights neighborhood.
Bid results were nearly double the cost of the roughly $3 million engineering estimate on the historic structure, which was closed in 2016 due to safety concerns following a routine inspection. A detailed structural evaluation concluded that nearly 40% of the bridge needs repaired or strengthened, and the paint system is failing and no longer protecting against corrosion.
The City received final approval from the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to bid the project in the fall after an extensive public engagement and planning process involving multiple local, state and national agencies. The design goals are to fully rehabilitate the bridge and retain its historical significance and to bring it in compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.
The City conducted a variety of outreach and publicity efforts in hopes of attracting a large number of qualified bids, according to Public Works Assistant Director Martin Gugel. Those efforts included:
- Direct outreach to contractors referred by BNSF and Great River Engineering, and to membership of Springfield Contractor’s Association (SCA) and Associated General Contractors (AGC)
- Posting on MoDOT’s website
- Being highly publicized with local and national media coverage
- Hosting a contractor pre-bid meeting, which well attended
- Pushing back the bid deadline per contractor requests.
Gugel cited the current bidding environment – the cost of materials, the labor-intensive nature of the project, subcontractor/contractor availability and the risk of working on the bridge over an active railroad – as potential reasons for bids coming in considerably higher than the original estimate.
Planned funding sources for the bridge rehabilitation included 80% from federal Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG) funds with a 20% local match from various funding sources, including the 1/4-cent Capital Improvement and 1/8-cent Transportation sales taxes. The match also relies on $50,000 raised by Commercial Street supporters.
As the administrator of federal STBG funding, MoDOT must review and concur with the awarding of a bid on the project. After consulting with MoDOT on the two submitted bids, MoDOT indicated they would not approve awarding the project to either company.
“Due to difficulties with labor shortages and scheduling conflicts, both contractors struggled to provide documentation of the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) requirement within a three-day post-bid window,” explained Gugel. “Upon review of the documentation and good faith effort on the part of both companies, MoDOT indicated they would not concur with awarding either proposal.”
With acceptance of a bid no longer an option at this time, City Council considered funding options for the potential rebidding of the project at a later date. Council directed staff to continue their research as further details are released regarding federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal funding. Council members also asked Public Works to look into improvements of the appearance of the bridge closure, as well as potential enhancements to alternate pedestrian routes at Washington and Lyon avenues.
About the Jefferson Avenue Footbridge
- Constructed in 1902.
- Ownership was transferred to the City in 1998.
- Minimal bridge rehabilitation in 2002.
- Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.
- Icon of Springfield history and a symbol of North Springfield.
- Transportation connection and significant to C-Street business district.