MANATEE -- The proposed Fort Hamer Bridge near Parrish inched another step forward as Manatee County officials have accepted bids for construction.
Seven companies submitted bids Friday ranging from $32.7 million to $44.2 million with a construction schedule of 630 days, according to county purchasing documents.
Bidders from high to low include:
Zep Construction Inc. of Fort Myers, $44.2 million;
Prince Contracting of Tampa, $39 million;
Hubbard Construction Co. of Clearwater, $37.9 million;
Orion Marine Construction of Houston, $36.2 million;
GLF Construction of Fort Meade, $36.7 million; and
Johnson Brothers Corp. of Tampa, $32.7 million.
Superior Construction of Jacksonville declined to bid on a 630-day construction schedule, but bid $36.1 million based on a 720-day schedule.
All bids exceeded by several million dollars cost estimates cited in past discussions of the bridge, which ranged from $20 million to $30.2 million.
Bids include construction of the bridge and ancillary improvements along Fort Hamer Road and Upper Manatee River Road to handle additional traffic.
County purchasing and procurement staff will check the math on each bid, the length of time the project would take and the final cost for each bid, said Manatee County spokesman Nick Azzara.
"It is not as simple as the low bid wins the job," he said. "Project consultants and county staff members will evaluate each bid to determine the low and responsive bidder. After this evaluation is conducted, a recommendation will be prepared."
Bids then go to the Manatee County Commission for approval, he said.
Among those in attendance was Brooke Pelsh, a project manager for Neal Land Ventures, and Maryann Grgic of Neal Communities.
Grgic said she attended the meeting because the bridge is "the critical transportation corridor in East Manatee."
Bids are not considered public records for a period of 30 days, or until an award is made, whichever occurs first, according to Azzara.
The bridge will span the Manatee River connecting two roads: Upper Manatee River Road on the south side and Fort Hamer Road on the north. When completed, the bridge will create a north-south alternative to Interstate 75 and provide a more direct route for Parrish residents to go to Lakewood Ranch.
County officials have estimated construction of the bridge and road improvements will take up to 25 months.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter@sarawrites.