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Construction of a "flyover" bridge connecting Bluffton Parkway with U.S. 278 has been delayed about a month because of minor errors Beaufort County made when seeking bids for the work.
Six construction firms bids on the estimated $31-million project in June, but the proposals were never opened because some the county's contract requirements were deemed "inconsistent with standard federal practice," according to Rob McFee, the county's director of engineering and infrastructure.
McFee called the problems relatively common among those soliciting bids for large road projects. He said the county is close to resolving the issues, which he called administrative in nature. Bidding will probably reopen this month. The contract could be awarded in September, and construction is still expected to start by the end of the year, McFee said. "The Federal Highway Administration and (S.C.) Department of Transportation are vital partners to us," McFee said. "We will do exactly what they wish us to do, certainly, in light of the fact that they are providing $15 million in funding."
State and federal agencies raised technical issues that centered around federal procurement standards, said Doug Hecox, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Transportation.
"The FHA has a responsibility to ensure that federal procurement requirements are satisfied and that's what this conversation appears to be centered on," he said.
Attempts Thursday to reach a spokesman for the S.C. Department of Transportation were unsuccessful.
The flyover bridges would start at Bluffton Parkway's intersection with Buckingham Plantation Dive and extend over the marsh between The Gatherings and Buckingham Landing. Ramps would connect to either side of the Fording Island Road extension leading to the foot of the Karl S. Bowers Bridge to Hilton Head Island.
The flyover project is part of Bluffton Parkway's section 5A, which also includes construction of more than two miles of road between Burnt Church Road and Buckingham Plantation Drive. That stretch was completed in phases, with the segment between Malphrus Road and Buckingham Plantation opening last month.
Follow reporter Casey Conley at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufortCo.