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WVDOT rejects Interstate 70 construction project bids

Traffic heads east on Interstate 70 out of Wheeling Tunnel in this July photo. — Scott McCloskey

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CHARLESTON — Gov. Jim Justice announced Friday that the West Virginia Department of Transportation has rejected bids received for the Interstate 70 bridges and paving project in Ohio County.

Instead, he said, the state has begun a review and re-evaluation to change the scope of the project so that it may be re-bid with the hope of bringing the cost down significantly.

“The bids we received were too high and we cannot afford to award contracts if we can’t justify the higher cost,” said Justice. “So, we will remain prudent in the process while at the same time making sure we get this extremely important work done under my Roads to Prosperity plan.”

The project’s scope included repairing or replacing 25 bridges, as well as reconstructing the pavement throughout West Virginia’s I-70 corridor. The low-bid amount received in July was $275,158,746, much higher than expected.

The original estimate was $170 million. The state then increased that to $201 million.

In recent months, the volatility of market conditions, particularly markets concerning the construction and material supply trades, has made project prices fluctuate significantly, Justice said.

“Before a decision is made to award any contract, our team evaluates every bid we receive to make sure it not only meets the project criteria but also that higher costs are justified,” said Secretary of Transportation Tom Smith. “After evaluating the bids we received in July, it was determined they were just too high to award.

“We remain committed to the project, but Governor Justice has directed us to ‘live within our means,’ therefore, we will examine options to resize the scope of this necessary project so it may soon be re-advertised to encourage reduced costs,” he said.