Chester Bross Construction is the apparent low bidder for bridge replacement west of Hannibal

Bids for Marion County’s next bridge project have come in a bit higher than anticipated. The three bids the county received were opened Monday at the county courthouse in Palmyra.

The engineer’s estimate for the bridge replacement project at Withers Mill on County Road 423 was reportedly right at $400,000. The low bid submitted was $421,996 by Chester Bross Construction of Hannibal. Bids were also submitted by Bleigh Construction of Hannibal ($450,217.30) and Magruder Construction of Eolia ($552,668.45).

The higher-than-expected bids did not deter the commission from wanting to undertake the project.

“We’ll have our engineer and Teya Stice, our capital coordinator, look over (the bids) and make sure all the bid documents are in place and the numbers are right. We’ll award the bid next Monday (Nov. 27),” said Presiding Commissioner Lyndon Bode.

The bridge crosses Bear Creek at Withers Mill, which is just west of Hannibal. Built in 1950, the 65-foot long bridge has a deck width of 18 feet, 6 inches. It features a weight limit of 14 tons.

“It has a low weight limit and it is a narrow bridge,” said Bode.

But the bridge’s weight restriction and narrowness is not why the county is intent on having it replaced.

“While it looks good from the top, underneath is where the problems are occurring with the beams and various rusting,” said Bode. “It’s been on MoDOT’s (Missouri Department of Transportation) list as one of the top two or three (in Marion County) to be replaced.

“We’re glad to get it replaced.”

In 2015 the bridge’s condition was rated as poor following an inspection by MoDOT. According to the state’s report, the span’s exterior girders had holes and major deterioration, and was not supporting the deck. Its interior girders had heavy rust.

In November 2016 preliminary plans were approved for the new single-span bridge, which will be 85 feet long. At that time it was anticipated the project would be bid last winter with work beginning this past spring.

Bode believes the new bridge will be an asset in that part of the county.

“With replacement of the bridge what I foresee is it connecting some of the outer roads. This is the road (County Road 423) that will feed into the (Highway) MM overpass so farm machinery can start using it. Now they have to bypass the bridge. When the bridge is completed combines will be able to cross over it because we’ll have a two-lane bridge,” he said.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com