Gilbert St. Bridge repair project start date may be delayed

The city received no bids for the construction project on March 21, which may result in the project’s start date taking place months after originally predicted.


Avi Lapchick

The Gilbert Street bridge is seen on Monday, Jan. 23, 2023.

Isabelle Foland, News Reporter

The Gilbert Street Bridge construction project may see a later start date after not receiving any  bids from construction companies.

A memo from the City of Iowa City Engineer Jason Havel in the April 4 city council meeting agenda states that a bid was held March 21 at the Iowa Department of Transportation, and no bids were proposed. 

Iowa City Assistant City Engineer Scott Sovers said this is likely because bridge contractors are busy along with the tight timeline of the construction project. He added that receiving no bids is not unusual but is not something that happens routinely.

The city has not stated a specific cost for the project, but there is a total of $2.9 million in a Gilbert Street Replacement Project account.

The project will repair damaged sections of the bridge and will also add rainwater drainage and water main improvements. 

It was originally supposed to begin this May and reach completion around November or December.  But the start date will now be pushed to this fall, with completion by fall 2024, Sovers said. 

The next step for the city is to wait until they are able to rebid the project, Sovers said. The earliest this could happen is late July 2023. The project is federally funded through the Iowa DOT, so the wait time is longer to undergo a more extensive bidding process, he said.

The city plans on lengthening the construction timeline of the project in order to entice bidders, Sovers said.

“The hope there is that we’ll get some bids, but then we’ll also get some bids that are more favorable in terms of just overall dollar amount,” Sovers said. “Generally speaking, the longer that we can give them and the more flexible we can be on projects, the lower the bid will come in.”

Sovers added that the full closure of Gilbert Street won’t happen until next year.

“If we do start this year, there’ll be some lane closures but the intent would be the primary construction of the bridge wouldn’t happen till next year, so the full closure wouldn’t happen until next year,” Sovers said. “So during the winter, we would just open things back up to four lanes of traffic.”