TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) -- Spend more now to save more later: that's the reasoning behind the Major Thoroughfare Committee's decision to accept a bid to build a bridge over the Natchez Trace Parkway as part of Tupelo's Northern Loop, even if that bid is 23 percent higher than the original estimate.
"The low bidder, Key Construction, had a low bid of $7.4 million. The next-lowest bidder was $8.3 million, so with that much of a difference between the two lowest bids, it wouldn't be a really good option to re-bid the project," Phase Five project engineer John White said.
White added that re-bidding could have prompted the three companies to charge more, which the committee would be stuck with having to pay.
"It was about $1.4 million over our original estimate, but the engineers believe that it is a fair price and they recommended that we approve it," committee chairman Greg Pirkle said.
So why is the cost higher? Pirkle said a combination of things contributed to the cost change, including the two-year delay between the city's estimate and the bidding process.
"The original estimate was based on previous projects that had been done in the last couple of years, so obviously those numbers are older," White said. "Obviously the economy affects bids. Different things can affect bids. It's an estimate. That's what it is."
As part of the Major Thoroughfare Project, the Northern Loop will eventually connect Coley Road with Barnes Crossing Road.
But other projects already underway around the city also use funding from the committee as well.
And that might make you wonder if there's a risk the committee won't have enough money to finish all of these endeavors.
"One of the things that we were concerned about is what would happen to us from a financial standpoint," Pirkle said. "The city's financial people have told us that there is going to be enough money in the program to cover the bridge, including the excess cost from this bid."
In July, the Tupelo City Council voted to allow the Major Thoroughfare Committee permission to borrow money from the city's rainy day fund if the committee goes over budget.
Committee members said the money they spend will be paid back before the program is completed. But in a worst case scenario provided by city clerk Kim Hanna, the committee might end up with a shortfall of as much as $4.5 million.
The last piece of this roadway puzzle is a bridge over Highway 78.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation is footing the bill for that.
The Tupelo City Council still has to approve the $7.4 million bid.
Once they do that, Pirkle said they could start the design and construction on the bridge in another month, and the Northern Loop would be open to traffic sometime in 2014.