Second Laughlin bridge

An artist’s conception shows the planned second bridge connecting Bullhead City and Laughlin. Construction on the project, now with an estimated cost approaching $60 million, has yet to begin.

BULLHEAD CITY — Work on infrastructure for the Arizona side of a second bridge over the Colorado River to link Bullhead City and Laughlin is slated to begin next month, said City Manager Toby Cotter during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

The bridge would run over the river between the south end of Bullhead Parkway and a three-mile extension from Needles Highway in Laughlin.

The project’s fate is now “in the hands of the Coast Guard,” said Cotter.

The Coast Guard has jurisdiction for approval of projects involving the Colorado River; a decision should come within about three months.

“We should be in the position to break ground within a year,” he said.

A couple of residents expressed concern whether the bridge indeed was going to be built. 

Cotter replied that he couldn’t say “categorically” whether it was going to happen. But he did note that the city has an intergovernmental agreement with Clark County and that the Clark County Board of Commissioners has approved it.

Cost of the bridge is estimated to be $56.3 million.

Bullhead City’s total share of the project cost is now $7.7 million.

In December of 2018, the plan lost the support of the Laughlin Town Advisory Board. Its members cited cost concerns as the reason for withdrawing consent. Three out of four members wanted money for the bridge to be reallocated to “other similar projects in Laughlin that will have a more beneficial and positive effect to provide services that will make life in Laughlin better for its residents.”

By November of 2019, however, the Bullhead City Council approved the intergovernmental agreement with Clark County for construction of the bridge, then accepted a bid of a little more than $3.2 million from McCormick Construction Co. of Bullhead City to build the extension to connect with the new bridge.

In June 2019, the city council committed $4.5 million after Clark County’s portion of the project was estimated at $30 million with only $21 million available. Bullhead City fulfilled a request by Clark County to come up with half of the $9 million shortfall for the bridge.

Hopes for a second bridge have been dashed before. A plan about a decade ago would have had the bridge start on the Arizona side at Riverview Drive. It was rejected in 2010 because it was unlawful, in part because federal funds would have been used on a bridge that would have infringed on Rotary Park. 

Mitigation pond

In a related matter, council members approved increasing the allocation of city river water rights to complete a mitigation pond for wildlife and fish habitat in Section 10 of the Colorado River Nature Center. 

Mayor Tom Brady and Council Member Steve D’Amico participated in the meeting by telephone.

In 1993, when the mitigation project was first proposed, it was going to be where the second bridge is going to go.

Increasing the yearly allocation amount from 66 acre-feet to 70 acre-feet for the backwater pond is needed because the amount of fill necessary to complete the maintenance road and berm for the bridge is larger than anticipated, according to Cotter.

A resident asked whether reclaimed water could be used for the pond instead. Cotter said no. 

The city has about 25,000 acre-feet worth of Colorado River water rights. 

EPCOR acquisition

Cotter also said Tuesday that city council members will consider a final appraisal report and resolution about acquiring EPCOR when they meet Feb. 18.

During that meeting there will be an explanation about how the city came up with that amount for EPCOR’s local assets.

Last year, Bullhead City voters authorized the city to take steps to acquire EPCOR’s local distribution system.

While Cotter reiterated that it could turn out to be “a peaceful process,” he also stressed that council members might end up authorizing a legal process to gain control of the utility company’s property.   

Transit hearing

Council members adopted a resolution authorizing city staff to apply for a Federal Transit Administration grant for rural public transit.

The amount sought would be $1.5 million to fund the Bullhead Area Transit System’s administrative, operational and capital expenses.

The grant would cover the next two federal government fiscal years that begin Oct. 1, 2020, and Oct. 1, 2021.

This funding source, the Federal Transit Administration’s 5311 program, has been helping pay for the system since 2000.

Cotter explained why council members have no recommendation from the Bullhead Area Transit System Commission. The commission wasn’t able to consider the matter during its scheduled meeting on Monday because there weren’t enough commissioners available to compose a quorum. 

In other business, the council members:

  • Authorized entering into a lease-purchase agreement for six industrial mowers from Deere and Company for $321,706.47. Increased use and expansion of the city’s sports fields was cited as the reason why the number of mowers was increased by one from the five leased four years earlier.  
  • Agreed to allow for an emergency procurement to replace ductile iron pipe used for sewer service on Phyllis Drive by Premier Backhoe of Fort Mohave for $240,424.88. Extensive corrosion picked up by line cameras indicated the line could fail and pose a threat to health and safety. Work could take about four weeks. 
  • Approved purchase of a new truck for street maintenance from Findlay Chevrolet of Las Vegas for $35,434. The price excludes freight and applicable taxes.
  • Named David Lipinski to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
  • Recommended the state issue a liquor license to Sabai Thai Bistro.

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