To the relief of Maryland highway officials, bids for a major portion of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project came in far below the state's estimate yesterday.
Seven companies submitted bids to build the 2,291-foot portion of the bridge from the draw span to the Virginia end. The lowest bid - $115.5 million - came from a joint venture called Virginia Approach Constructors, giving it the opportunity to negotiate a contract with the State Highway Administration.
State engineers had forecast the cost at $160 million. They attributed the low bids to increased competition and the low cost of materials such as steel.
The Virginia approach is one of three portions of the bridge. The low bid for the draw span portion came in at $186 million last fall. Bids for the Maryland approach, estimated to cost between $230 million and $260 million, will be opened May 1. The total cost of the project is expected to be $2.5 billion.
The 40-year-old Wilson Bridge across the Potomac River is a major bottleneck in the East Coast transportation network. The first six-lane span of the new bridge is set to open in early 2006.
Virginia Approach Constructors is a joint venture of Granite Construction Co. of Watsonville, Calif., and Corman Construction of Annapolis Junction in Anne Arundel County.