Concrete Removal At Gums Is Costly
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GUMS CROSSING – Work continues on the removal of two massive concrete spans from the old Gums Crossing bridge that splashed down into Skuna River almost two years ago. The concrete sections are impeding construction of the replacement bridge on County Road 221. The bridge, the longest in the county, was closed in February, 2019 after historic flooding caused structural damage.
Supervisors awarded a $16.24 million bid to replace the bridge in February, 2021, making it the costliest project ever awarded by the county. The added cost of the concrete removal, which was not part of the original bid, came later in 2021 and was initially expected to add another $2 million-plus to the project after contractors discovered that the four concrete sections were buried under 28 feet of silt in the lake bed. Making matters worse, two of the concrete slabs were located directly where the pilings for the new bridge will be placed. The costly work has included dredging the area to remove the silt covering the concrete and using divers to connect the slabs to heavy equipment to hoist them out. The work was also compounded by heavy rains earlier in the year that continued to wash silt back over the spans during the dredging.
The tally for the price ongoing removal was calculated at the Feb. 7 supervisor meeting, prompting discussion about the cost exceeding the initial estimate.
“We are showing we have paid right at $1.6 million out of the $2 million estimate,” Board President Cayce Washington noted during discussion.
“I don’t think we will be less than $2 million. But I don’t think we will be at the $3.2 million,” County Engineer Karl Grubb reported about the high side of the cost estimate for the work. Grubb had joined the meeting via phone, and explained that the contractor learned some things after battling the first concrete slab.
“That is a pretty expensive classroom,” District 5 Supervisor Gaylon Gray noted during the conversation.
“I just had to pick about three of these supervisors off the floor when you said $3.2 million,” Washington added.
“The $2 million was based on all four of them, and here we are with one out,” Grubb agreed. He also shared a bit of good news, that the project engineer and others involved in the construction have all agreed that the other two concrete slabs could remain in the lake bottom.
“We will drive some pilings and leave those two in place,” Grubb said. The pilings will keep the concrete from shifting and potentially damaging the new bridge, and will be less expensive that removing the concrete spans.
The cost of the bridge project also surfaced in a recessed meeting Tuesday morning as supervisors continue to exhaust options to help fund the county’s share of the cost. Washington revisited the figures which include the $16.2 million contract, $2 million-plus for the concrete removal and another million for engineering.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is funding 80 percent of the total cost. The state also kicked in one million dollars from bond money appropriated during the 2020 Legislative Session.
Washington explained that the county taxpayers will be on the hook for an estimated $2.4 million dollars. His comments came as details were provided to apply for a potential grant from Delta Regional Authority to help with the county’s share of the project.