By finishing bridge project early Bleigh Construction qualifies for bonus.

It's been said that the early bird gets the worm. Construction contractors who get done ahead of schedule can secure an “early-bird” bonus. Such was the case this spring when Bleigh Construction finished the new Warren Barrett bridge in Hannibal over a month early, which earned the contractor a bonus of almost $30,000.

That bonus was part of an $87,271 change order that was approved by the City Council at its June 6 meeting.

According to Brian Chaplin, superintendent of the Department of Public Works, incentive clauses are not unusual.

“We always have it (a bonus clause) in the contract if you get done early with a project,” said Chaplin. “We don't see it earned a whole lot, so you don't see those (bonuses) actually come to the Council often. This one got done 41 days early even with the extras we added to it.”

According to Chaplin, the project's contractor had 120 calendar days to complete the bridge replacement project. Work commenced in late January. A ribbon-cutting ceremony that marked the opening of the new span occurred on April 25.

Chaplin attributed Bleigh's rapid progress on this year's fair late-winter weather.

“The break in the weather contributed to all the progress we've had,” he said in April.

Additional expense was also incurred in order to repair deteriorated pavement at the bridge.

“The concrete approaches on each end, that was kind of my call,” said Chaplin. “It was pretty ratty on each end where they saw cut it. I wanted to extend it out further for a larger and smoother bridge approach.”

Because of on-site condition changes additional piling lengths were necessary for the bridge foundation.

“We had to add some extra length of beams to hit the bedrock and get better ground for the bridge to sit on,” said Chaplin. “That's kind of an unknown. When we took everything out that's when we found that.”

There were also some additional minor rebar and rock blanket change orders during the project.

The project was originally budgeted to come in at $565,141 but with the cost of additional supplies and the bonus the final price tag for the bridge was $652,413.

“We're still under budget so it was worth doing the upgrades,” said Chaplin, noting that the engineer's estimate for the new bridge was just under $700,000.

Initially the plan was to repair the old bridge, which was given a 15-ton weight limit in late July 2016 following a June 2016 inspection by the Missouri Department of Transportation of the span over Bear Creek. However, at its Aug. 2, 2016, meeting the Council decided it would get more bang for its buck by replacing the existing bridge, which was built in 1975. The City Council accepted Bleigh's bridge replacement bid of $565,141 on Dec. 6, 2016.


Reach reporter Danny Henley at