Franklin County has contracted with an Omaha, Neb.-based engineering firm to develop design and construction plans for the Shawnee Ford Road bridge replacement project.

The firm, HDR Engineering, will charge $175,620 for the design engineering services and $73,710 for the construction engineering portion.

“The cost of the engineering fees is about an average cost that runs for a project this size,” Franklin County Highway Administrator Eva Gadcke said. “It’s usually around 15 to 18 percent.”

Contract Approved

The county commission last Tuesday approved the contract to replace the current bridge that is said to be structurally deficient and functionally obsolete.

“This is an important project to get done,” Gadcke said, adding that it is a main river crossing in the county.

It is one of only two main river crossings in the county with an old bridge. The other one is the Bend Road Bridge over the Meramec River, which the county is currently seeking federal funding to replace.

The Shawnee Ford Road bridge that will be replaced spans the Bourbeuse River in southwest Franklin County, northwest of Sullivan.

Gadcke said this is the first time that the federal government has imposed a disadvantaged business enterprise requirement for a county highway consulting contract.

That means 10 percent of the design engineering contract must be subcontracted out to firms recognized under the disadvantaged business enterprise requirement, Gadcke said.

Businesses run by females or minorities could qualify, she added.

The county has always had to follow the guidelines for construction contracts, but this is the first time it has been applied to consulting, she said.

The requirement helps ensure that federal dollars are spread around to different businesses, she said. The purpose of federal money is to create work, Gadcke added..

Project Scope

The total project cost, including engineering and construction, is about $1.5 million.

It is being paid for with 80 percent federal funds, and the county will provide the other 20 percent through a “soft match.”

Gadcke said the soft match will come from state funds the county has in an account to replace deficient bridges.

This project is expected to deplete that account.

Construction is scheduled to start in 2015, but she said it is possible it could be moved up to 2014, depending on how the design and right of way process goes.

Engineering Firm Review Process

It is unclear how HDR’s engineering costs compared to the other firms that applied.

That’s because the county did not get cost quotes from the other firms.

When it comes to selecting an engineering firm, contract negotiations do not start until a firm is selected, Gadcke said.

Under federal highway guidelines, contract costs cannot be discussed during the firm selection process, she said.

Firms should be selected based on qualifications, Gadcke said, noting that the design is the most vital part of a project.

If money is the focal point, then the best firm might not be chosen, she noted.

But if a firm is chosen and a reasonable contract cannot be arranged, then the county could move to the next best firm, she said.

“HDR brought the most respect to Franklin County,” Gadcke said.

The county solicited firms for the engineering services and got 20 responses. Those firms were narrowed down to the top five, which were then interviewed.