Bids also were opened Friday for two other local projects.
Widening Shallowford Road from Gunbarrel to Jenkins Road
• Highways Inc., $3,398,029.40
• Talley Construction Co. Inc., $3,535,378.55
• Thomas Bros. Construction Co. Inc., $3,637,225.72
• C.W. Matthews Contracting Co. Inc., $3,731,528.91
Resurfacing Interstate 24 from Georgia line to Chattanooga Creek
• Highways Inc., $4,197,836.00
• Tally Construction Co. Inc., $4,213,064.75
The price of widening U.S. Highway 27 between the Olgiati Bridge and Signal Mountain Road may trigger sticker shock.
The lowest of three bids for the project opened Friday was more than 25 percent above the $75 million to $78 million figure that state and local planners have been using.
Wright Bros. Construction Co., of Charleston, Tenn., was the apparent low bidder at $102.5 million, according to the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
The other bidders were Bb SmartFix Constructors of Sevierville, Tenn., at $102.8 million and Dement Construction of Jackson, Tenn., at $106 million.
Stephen Wright, president of Wright Brothers, said he was amazed when the quotes from suppliers were totaled.
"It's considerably more than we had assumed it was," Wright said Friday evening. "It's a very difficult project to estimate and put together. So many retaining walls. An awful lot of it is material -- it's steel, it's concrete."
Employees who answered phones at Bb and Dement on Friday both said their officials had gone for the day after being up all night Thursday working on the bid.
Chief Engineer Degges said last week that because the project is so complex, TDOT had prequalified bidders to make sure they could handle the job.
"It's a tough corridor to build in. We didn't want to let just anybody bid on it. We've kind of got the A-team out there bidding on it," he said.
The three-year project involves widening the highway to three or sometimes four lanes in each direction.
The Manufacturers Road southbound exit and entry ramps will be moved and rebuilt and the Manning Street and Whitehall Road ramps will be permanently closed.
The Dayton Boulevard exit ramp will be rebuilt slightly north of its present location and the Signal Mountain Road exit will be widened to two lanes with a left-turn lane at the bottom.
The contractor will have to keep two lanes of traffic flowing during construction.
"It's like having 50,000 friends driving through your office every day," Wright joked.
Degges said TDOT has 30 days to review the bids and make sure they meet specifications.
If the agency isn't happy with the proposals, it may reject all the bids and look for new ones, he said.
If a bid is awarded, it will take a few weeks to complete contract paperwork and set a start date for construction, he said.
Judy Walton has worked 25 years at the Chattanooga Times and the Times Free Press as an editor and reporter focusing on government coverage and investigations. At various times she has been an assistant metro editor, region reporter and editor, county government reporter, government-beat team leader, features editor and page designer. Originally from California, Walton was brought up in a military family and attended a dozen schools across the country. She earned a journalism degree ...