Tenders and labor issues halt restoration of Jefferson Avenue walkway

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- At a Springfield City Council lunch meeting on Tuesday, council members received an update on the restoration process for the 119-year-old Jefferson Avenue Walkway Project.

City leaders spoke about the contractors’ bidding results after the bidding process opened in late October. Local contractors were very interested, but only two made official offers.

Martin Gugel, from the Ministry of Public Works, said he could not accept either offer for budgetary reasons. Both bids were around $5-6 million, and federal and local funding for the project is $3.2 million.

Gugel also mentioned that contractors in the area are reserved, the impact of the labor shortage is causing problems, and the costs of materials needed for the project are rising.

Watch the full council lunch below:

“As you’re all aware of the labor shortages and scheduling conflicts with a job like this, that makes it harder,” Gugel said.

Options now:

  • Wait and relaunch the project with a higher budget estimate
  • Seek more funding
  • Adjust the auction package
  • Wait for a more favorable auction environment

Springfield Mayor Ken McClure said this news about the project is disheartening.

“We pushed for it to get to this point, and I was hoping our offers wouldn’t be doubled, but. I’m not very optimistic about the auction environment. I understand the risk contractors would feel if rail cars were traveling directly below them,” McClure said.

Previous project objectives:

  • Completed rehabilitating the bridge and retaining historical significance
  • Comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards – adding elevators or stairs – depending on budget

History of the gateway:

The footbridge was built in 1902, and the bridge was the first of its kind to be built in Missouri.

In 2016, the bridge was closed due to safety concerns after Public Works discovered corrosion and loss of steel during a routine inspection. The City hired Great River Engineering (GRE) of Springfield to perform a thorough structural assessment of the bridge. The assessment found deficiencies in more than a third of the main structural elements and required the bridge to remain closed until repairs could be made.

The construction project will include the complete rehabilitation of the existing 25,066 pound steel bridge structure, the repair and replacement of existing deficient structural elements, the removal and replacement of wood decking, the replacement of stairs, the application of a new paint system and installation of lighting.

Laura J. Boyer