JASPER, Tenn. — City leaders will have to borrow more money than they expected to complete the waterline installation at the new bridge crossing the Tennessee River along U.S. Highway 41, but they are looking for a way to get back within budget.
The Jasper Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously to borrow $348,300 at a 3.37 percent interest rate over 12 years to complete the project after bid prices came in much higher than expected.
Mayor Paul Evans said Britton Bridge in Mount Juliet, Tenn., which is overseeing construction of the bridge, gave the city a written estimate on the anchors that will hold the waterline in place.
"Instead of the $70,000 we had anticipated and budgeted, the bid came back at $173,000," he said. "So, that loan amount increased by $100,000. This is money we have to borrow."
Gary Cosby, an engineer with CTI Engineers Inc., said Jasper is not the only entity with utilities on the bridge, and those companies have run into the same problem.
AT&T and a consortium of other companies will be installing a pipe across the bridge, too, he said.
"Britton Bridge is giving them what appear to be excessively high prices, and so they've gone out to another contractor," Cosby said.
He said Massey Electric Co. in Alcoa, Tenn., gave those companies a "much, much more reasonable price."
Britton Bridge spokesman John Van Mol said the bid was just an approximation.
"Essentially the plans for the water pipe were not complete at that point, and [Britton Bridge] just submitted a bid that's an approximation, to sort of protect themselves depending on how the plans turned out," Van Mol said. "They may well bid on it when the job is sent out for bid."
Cosby said he put in a request on Jasper's behalf for a summary of prices from Massey Electric in hopes the city will get a better price, too.
Unfortunately, officials said, the waterline Jasper is installing requires somewhat larger and stronger components than the other utilities, so it remains to be seen whether the city will be able to get a better deal.
Evans said the schedule on the bridge work has been "pushed back" recently, so the city has a little more time to price-shop for the needed materials.