Residents can look forward to the Hwy. 72 extension being completed around this time next year, thanks to the construction bid being officially awarded to Lehman Construction, LLC. According to City Administrator, John Butz, the project is slated to cost well below the original estimate.

Residents can look forward to the Hwy. 72 extension being completed around this time next year, thanks to the construction bid being officially awarded to Lehman Construction, LLC. According to City Administrator, John Butz, the project is slated to cost well below the original estimate.

“They were the low bid of nine,” said Butz. “And they were the only one of the nine contractors to propose a concrete street.”

Butz said each of the contractors had a lot of experience working with the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), and each of them would have been able to efficiently complete the project to the city’s standards.

“These are big,-well-established, qualified contractors. To get a concrete contractor as the low bid really surprised all of us,” Butz said.

According to John Butz and council documents, the engineer’s estimate for the completion of the project was 7.4 million dollars, which was an estimation based on other states’ projects of a similar scale. Butz said the estimate considered projects where contractors were building underneath traffic. This isn’t a problem the Hwy 72 extension project will encounter, allowing the companies to submit lower bids. The bid from Lehman was 5.3 million, and the city will include incentives for the company to complete the project early, totaling anywhere between $250,000 to $300,000.

“This could be a five and a half million dollar project cost, but that’s still a million and a half under the engineer’s estimate,” Butz said.

The City of Rolla will issue the notice to proceed as soon as they receive a permit from the BNSF Railway, who is giving permission to build a bridge above the tracks.

“When we get that in hand we’ll be able to give the notice to proceed to the contractor and they’ll be able to start construction,” said Butz. “We envisioned giving that notice to proceed in December and having them start demolition in January. Hopefully that project will be done by November or December of 2018. That really completes the road from the first 600 feet we built by Walgreens until it includes the new interchange and tie-in to Kingshighway.”

After the extension is complete, Butz said the city will have the ability to open “lots of access to the north-west side of Rolla, to 1-44.” According to him, this accomplishes two things for the city.

“The Westside Marketplace is going to open up in about March of 2018, so all of that traffic trying to get out there is going to have to use the only road currently available, and that’s Kingshighway.” The road will be busy once Westside Marketplace opens, but once the extension is open, it will potentially greatly relieve traffic.

The road will also allow commercial vehicles that are going up and down Highway 63 trying to get through Rolla, to use the much shorter extension, relieving traffic pressure on another major city road.

“The modeling shows that, potentially, up to 40 percent of the traffic on 63 is just getting around Rolla—not stopping,” said Butz. “12 percent of the total traffic on [Hwy] 63 is tractor trailers. If we could provide that relief route, that allows us to do some things on 63, whether it’s “Complete Streets,” or traffic calming . . . none of which you can do on 63 currently.”  Complete Streets, which was discussed in a previous article published by The Rolla Daily News, is a philosophy which encourages the city to create streets that are open to more than just vehicle traffic.

“Potentially, all of that can take place once we shift that traffic out of there,” Butz said.

The City of Rolla has been looking at how to grow since 2005 and beyond, and once the 72 extension is complete, and the corridor to the western side of Rolla opens, residents can see that growth happen firsthand.