LA DOTD terminates $23.4M Jimmie Davis Bridge rehab contract over bird plan

LA DOTD terminates $23.4M Jimmie Davis Bridge rehab contract over bird plan
Project moving forward to replace Jimmie Davis Bridge (Source: KSLA News 12)
The LA DOTD says the $23.4M contract to rehabilitate the Jimmie Davis Bridge has been terminated over a disagreement on how to deal with these federally-protected cliff swallows living in the structure.
The LA DOTD says the $23.4M contract to rehabilitate the Jimmie Davis Bridge has been terminated over a disagreement on how to deal with these federally-protected cliff swallows living in the structure.

BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has terminated the $23.4 million contract to rehabilitate the La. 511 Jimmie Davis Bridge.

According to a statement late Monday morning, the DOTD "has determined that for reasons beyond the control of both DOTD and PCL Civil Constructors, Inc.," the project can't be completed as originally contracted.

"We know that it's old, we know that it needs to be rehabilitated, and we're looking forward to doing that," said Cindy Dorfner, the Public Information Officer for DOTD.

One year and four months after the original bid to overhaul the Jimmie Davis bridge, plans are now scrapped and it is back to the drawing board.

"Kind of a starting over situation," said Dorfner.

Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development terminated the contract because both sides could not agree on how to get rid of the cliff swallows, a protected breed of bird, living under the bridge.

"We just couldn't come to an agreement," said Dorfner.

This is the latest delay in the project that was expected to get underway this year. The last delay in August, was when the contractor, PCL Civil Constructors, Inc., asked to delay the project while they tried to deal with the birds.

Before Monday's announcement, the project was supposed to start this month. The most recent completion date for the project according had been December 2017, according to LaDOTD's website.

The signs for construction are now facing away from the road as the construction for the Jimmie Davis bridge is halted.

Now, DOTD is back at the bidding stage, looking for a new contractor to re-deck, paint the bridge purple and put up lights on the bridge.

"Shreveport-Bossier uses all of our bridges a lot. We are a community that crosses our bridges daily. I cross it daily going to my office right there on the Jimmie Davis Highway. We are one community, we need our bridges," said Senator Barrow Peacock, (R) Bossier City.

Senator Barrow Peacock says ideally there needs to be a new bridge. But the $23.4 million is currently earmarked for rehabilitating the current bridge.

"We're going to definitely have to look at expanding capacity of the Jimmie Davis Bridge. And who knows this may be the opportunity to go ahead and do that," said Senator Peacock.

"DOTD is diligently working on the next steps to move forward with this project, and it is important to note that the money allocated for this rehabilitation remains allocated to the La. 511 Jimmie Davis Bridge. While DOTD realizes the termination of the contract presents a delay of this project, it is imperative that the department act with the best interest of the state of Louisiana and its citizens in mind," the statement said.

The bidding is set for June 8.

The Tampa, FL-based PCL Civil Constructors, Inc. was awarded the contract in December 2014. The original contract with PCL Civil Constructors, Inc. did not have the bird mitigation as part of the contract, but it will be a part of the new contract.

Their bid price was about $3.2 million over DOTD's estimated project cost of $20,227,731.34. According to a DOTD spokesperson at the time PCL was the only company to bid for the project.

DOTD says the goal is to set in the contract a time that will allow the new contractor to get the work started before the swallows return next year. We're told PCL will not bid on the project again.

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