Botched estimates on the Boca Grande fixed bridge project have cost two men prominent places on the Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority project, which has ballooned to an estimated $38 million to replace all three 54-year-old spans.
GIBA Board member Ginger Watkins said at last Friday's special meeting the estimated cost of bridge replacement could be as high as $41million.
In the wake of the missed estimates, GIBA also received a major reduction in project costs from the company overseeing the bridge design and construction work. Kisinger Campos & Associates of Tampa has cut its engineering fees from 10 percent to 8.5 percent, which should come to more than $200,000.
GIBA Executive Director Jim Cooper said KCA concessions have reduced the final fixed bridge project cost from $16.2 million to $14.5 million.
"That's a lot of money," said Cooper.
The in-house belt-tightening means KCA missed its bid by 45 percent and $4.5 million.
What: Gasparilla island Bridge Authority Board meeting
When: 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Jan. 26
Where: Boca Grande Community Center Auditorium
Why: $38 million bridge project
Structural Engineer Tom Shaw of KCA and Project Manager Mike Albano of Dyer, Riddles Mills & Precourt Inc. of Orlando were forced to resign from the project by the Gasparilla island Bridge Authority Board after the original fixed design construction bids came in 62 percent over their $10 million estimate at $16.2 million before the KCA concessions.
"The project is going to be a success, regardless," Albano said. "I have no ill feelings. I wish them well. The estimate was off and somebody had to pay but the project is in good shape. When they have a good bridge, everybody will be happy and all this will be forgotten."
KCA assigned Julian Gutierrez of KCA subsidiary KCCS as project lead for Swing Bridge design and Paul Wingard of KCCS as project manager for construction.
"I think they've taken their best men to guide us through this project," said Thor Johnson, GIBA Engineering Committee chairman. "They want to make amends."
KCCS is a 14-year-old division established when KCA reorganized in 1998 to form a separate corporation focusing exclusively on providing construction engineering and inspection in Florida.
KCCS remains a wholly owned subsidiary of KCA, which was questioned by GIBA Board members Ginger Watkins and David Hayes. They said it was inappropriate for one company to oversee its own work.
Cooper said KCA has a 15-year-history with Boca Grande's bridges, which will be critical when bonding is needed for the bridge project. GIBA Finance Committee Chairman Bill Holmberg agreed.
Construction on the two fixed bridges will start Feb. 17 as design is already complete and all permits are in hand.
GIBA has chosen the Bank of America to provide a $15 million line of credit loan to begin the work.
A gap, estimated at $7.5 million in project funding, must still be filled by bond financing or bank loans before the more costly Swing Bridge replacement project can begin in 2014.
Holmberg is presenting long-range financing options to the public at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan 16, in the Boca Grande Community Center Auditorium. The list of possible funding options include a mix of toll increases, property tax increases, toll rebate reductions or a combination of all three.