A project to replace a 106-year-old bridge in McDowell County, awarded by the West Virginia Division of Highways on Thursday, January 20, is paid for with bond sales from Gov. Jim Justice’s $2.8 billion Roads to Prosperity program.
SMH Construction Company Inc. was awarded a contract for $1,612,978.90 to replace the Big Creek Arch Bridge in McDowell County. Built in 1916, the bridge carriers WV 16 over Big Creek just east of the community of Berwind.
The bridge is crucial to travel in southern McDowell County. Failure to replace the bridge would result in lengthy detours for drivers and commercial traffic.
The bridge is paid for with $423 million raised by the West Virginia Parkways Authority from a bond sale in June 2021. The bond sale was part of Gov. Justice’s Roads to Prosperity program.
Several factors are considered before awarding a bid, including whether a bid falls above or below the WVDOH Engineer’s Estimate and by what percentage. In cases where a bid is above the Engineer’s Estimate, WVDOH must consider the project need, repercussions of not awarding the project, additional funding sources, and whether or not sufficient reasons exist for the differences in estimates. Most projects are reviewed, analyzed, and awarded within a week of the bid letting, but the process can take longer.
When the Division of Highways has a project that is determined to be best constructed by a contractor, it is processed through the bid letting system. A letting is a scheduled opportunity for contractors to review and bid on several construction projects at one time. Lettings are held either once or twice per month and conducted through the Bid Express System online at www.bidx.com and handled through the Contract Administration Division. Contractors need to subscribe to Bid Express before bids can be accepted on any project.
As the date and time approach the deadline of the letting, contractors are expected to place their bids, with complete documentation as necessary. Shortly after the letting, the respective bids are reviewed. All bids are evaluated thoroughly for competitiveness and deemed acceptable through guidelines as approved by policy, reviewed, and approved by the FHWA. Award of the contracts is made based on the recommendation by our Awards Committee based on the results that evaluation and approval by the Commissioner. Projects are typically awarded to the lowest bidder with all proper documentation in place.