Hull Street bridge bids under projections

By Eric Butler: Freedom New Mexico

Call it a little reverse sticker shock.

When City of Clovis administrators began opening bids from companies hoping to build a new bridge at Hull Street, it was expected that the cost would be somewhere close to $6 million.

That’s because HDR Engineering previously estimated the cost at $5.8 million. Instead, each of the six construction bids were in a range between $3.3 million and $5.1 million.

Clovis City Manager Joe Thomas is expected to recommend that the city, at a regular city commission meeting at 5:15 p.m. Thursday, accept the low bid proposed by Hamon Contractors of Denver, Colo.

Thomas said he couldn’t explain with certainty why the bids were significantly below the estimate, but noted other construction projects in recent weeks have also had less expensive costs than projected.

“I think you have to attribute it to the overall economic situation,” Thomas said. “Whether that’s the answer or not, I can’t say.”

At a meeting of the city’s Economic Development Tax Advisory Board on Tuesday morning, Thomas said he is looking for the Hull Street Bridge construction to begin before the end of the year.

Also at the meeting, the board approved a $350,000 expenditure from tax advisory board funds to build a structure for air crew training at the Clovis Airport.

The item will be presented to the city commission for approval Thursday.

If approved, the money would go to locally owned Bosbeck LLC, who would then lease the facility to the unnamed company — whose identity Thomas did not reveal due to a non-disclosure agreement.

Chase Gentry, executive director for the Clovis Industrial Development Corporation, did say the company is a long-standing one.

“They’re real anxious to be in Clovis. They’ve been around for about 40 years, and I think it’ll be a good fit for Clovis,” Gentry said. “We feel like what they’re doing, there’s a potential for it to grow and bring even more development in.”

In another item before the tax advisory board, members okayed an agreement, which will also require approval from the city commission at large, with Champion Pet Foods to reimburse the city for money already spent on Champion’s predecessor.

The City of Clovis entered into a project agreement with New Mexico Processing in 2002 for the purchase of equipment at 802 S. Hull St.

That property was later sold to Champion, which was unable to employ the amount of people required under the original agreement because the plant has not operated on a continuous bases.

Under the reimbursement agreement, Champion will pay the city $75,000 over the next five years, while the city will retain the mortgage on the property until the final payment is made.