Cotter not surprised by increase in bridge cost

November 17, 2018 GMT

BULLHEAD CITY — Laughlin officials and residents expressed concern about the increasing cost for a second bridge over the Colorado River connecting the Nevada town and Bullhead City during a meeting Tuesday of the Laughlin Town Advisory Board. During the meeting it was announced the project is anticipated to exceed $56 million.

The 2015 cost estimate for the bridge was $40 million. Bullhead City Manager Toby Cotter said Thursday it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone involved that the price for the second bridge is on the rise.

He attributes the higher price to the bridge design changing from two lanes to four lanes, the addition of “nice design elements” and that the cost of construction elements is higher.

“Bullhead City is willing to talk about the project’s scoping if the Laughlin Town (Advisory) Board wants to revisit those conversations we’ve been having for the past five years,” Cotter noted.

He pointed out that Bullhead City previously offered to take the project over. He then emphasized that suggestion isn’t being made because anyone has a feeling of “sour grapes” but because “we need a second bridge.”

“Maybe the scope needs to go back to two lanes,” Cotter said. “If the total project costs are exceeding what Clark County and the state of Arizona are willing to pay, we should look at the scope.”

He said a transportation estimate of need indicates that a two-lane bridge would adequately serve the area until 2044.

About $18 million will be paid by the federal government for the bridge project.

The Southern Nevada Regional Transportation Commission, the lead agency on the project, could add $32 million but more than half of that money isn’t planned for use on the project until 2023, according to the Bob Leuck, deputy public works director for Clark County, who spoke to the Laughlin board.

Cotter also said the Laughlin board’s plan to place renewed discussion about bridge’s placement on its agenda for their upcoming meeting, which is scheduled for Dec. 11, is “very interesting.”

The location “has been set in stone for years,” he explained. An earlier plan that would have brought the bridge to Riverview Drive was rejected by federal law in 2010.

The residents of Laughlin and Bullhead share many things including medical, retail and entertainment providers, and that need for a second bridge is established. Cotter also described the relationship between the two communities as “symbiotic.”

The Bullhead City Council will discuss and possibly approve excise tax bonding for its portion of the work for the second bridge — $3.1 million in infrastructure and pavement to the river on the extension of the Bullhead Parkway from Highway 95 to the bridge — when it meets Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council chamber. Bullhead City already has some of its earmarked funds to extend the Parkway.

Work to be done by Bullhead City for the bridge project will service the Mohave Crossroads shopping center, the Anderson Auto Group Fieldhouse and future development in the area.

Construction of the bridge is slated to begin next year and it will take up to two years to complete, according to previous reports.