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New Arkansas River Pedestrian Bridge Threatening to Come in up to $7M over Budget

Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates

Another round of cost-cutting is underway on the Gateway Bridge, the Arkansas River pedestrian bridge set to be Tulsa’s newest landmark.

Tulsa’s Gathering Place LLC Director and Trustee Jeff Stava is overseeing the project. He told the Sales Tax Overview Committee last week that within a few weeks of the last round of bid openings in late September, two companies backed out, pushing up the total cost $5 million and setting the bridge to come in $4.6 million to $7.1 million over its $27.4 million dollar budget.

"The electric bid, the lower bid was — gosh, I think it was like $600,000 or $700,000 to the next group of bidders — they felt like they had missed maybe some of the, you know, when they did the bid, they may have missed some of the components. So, they withdrew," Stava said.

A company doing site work also withdrew when it was awarded smaller, individual projects rather than all available work. Stava says they’re trying to cut $4 million from the bridge costs now by culling anything considered upgrades or extras. So far, the price tag has been trimmed by $1.6 million by doing things like backing away from upgraded handrails and choosing precast concrete sections for the bridge decking.

Major structural work will proceed on schedule.

"We were able to award last month $22.6 million in contracts to get the construction going for the project, and we have until late spring, early summer to get our fundraising in line," Stava said.

A fundraising campaign is set to begin soon, with an unnamed, private donor pledging to match whatever is donated.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum has said no additional public dollars will be available for the Gateway Bridge. Its $27.4 million budget was part of the Vision Tulsa sales tax package.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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