BULLHEAD CITY — The City Council unanimously approved rejecting all bids on its $3.03 million portion of the $56.3 million bridge project that would span the Colorado River to link Bullhead City and Laughlin during a special meeting on Wednesday evening.
Clark County is slated to construct 3 miles of road connecting the bridge to Needles Highway on the Nevada side. On the other side of the river, the four-lane, 724-foot-long bridge would connect to a half-mile extension of Bullhead Parkway in Bullhead City.
The Laughlin Town Advisory Board, at its meeting Tuesday, voted to notify major project partners it no longer supported the bridge project. LTAB members cited the overall rising cost, that too much money was being spent on it by Nevada entities, and that placement wasn’t going to adequately benefit Laughlin’s interests.
“Unfortunately, they took a different direction,” said City Manager Toby Cotter about the decision made by Laughlin officials.
Cotter told council members that, in his opinion, the cost of Nevada’s infrastructure leading to the bridge “is what’s bothering them.”
Connecting roadway on the Laughlin side would cost $15.8 million while connecting the bridge to Bullhead City would cost only about $3.1 million, according to information supplied by LTAB at Tuesday’s meeting. Much of that disparity is over the length of the roadway — half a mile on the Arizona side versus 3 miles on the Nevada side.
Cotter and Bullhead City Mayor Tom Brady were at the Tuesday LTAB meeting. Brady said it would have been better if the LTAB had made its pronouncement months ago.
One reason is that, he said, “the city already purchased the bonds” that will fund construction on the Arizona side.
“Your goals are just about the same as ours — to make sure everyone gets to go where they want to go,” said Jackie Mazzeo, president and CEO of the Laughlin Chamber of Commerce, the only person to speak to the council and a proponent of the project.
Now the city has to fulfill its promise made to the school district to complete roadwork to Anderson Auto Group Fieldhouse, making the facility accessible when it opens in the spring. It’s next to the bridge project and the city’s work for it, such as paved ground around the building, was within the bid rejected Wednesday.
The city likely will have to modify its request for proposals to only the construction needed for roadways leading to the fieldhouse.
Council Member Mark Clark, who was participating in the meeting by telephone, said he was concerned about a higher overall cost if the bridge project ultimately moves forward.
Cotter replied that it’s less costly to do the work all at once instead of in two stages, but it might end up happening that way.
Bullhead City coordinated its efforts with the Louis Berger Group, the bridge project designer, which provided information about the project’s timeline. The bid process was set to begin at the end of this year.
Laughlin officials don’t have ultimate say over the project; LTAB is an advisory board with no legislative power. LTAB makes its recommendations to the Clark County Board of Commissioners, which would have the power to halt it.
“All isn’t lost,” Cotter said. “There have been times when the Clark County commissioners agreed with the Laughlin Town Advisory Board, but other times when they have not.”
The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada and Clark County are slated to pay a total of about $33.5 million. There also is an $18 million federal grant for the project.
Cotter again reiterated that the city is willing to discuss reducing the scope of the project with Nevada officials.
Also emphasized was that the relationship between Bullhead City and Laughlin remains solid.
It isn’t going to be defined by “one vote,” Cotter added.
“This is a very large hiccup,” Brady said about the same working relationship. “But an isolated one.”