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Penzel submits low bid for diverging diamond at I-55 & 61

A Jackson company submitted the low bid for construction work on the diverging diamond intersection at I-55 and East Jackson Boulevard. MoDOT opened bids on Friday, Dec. 13.

Penzel Construction submitted a bid of just under $17.5 million. Four other bids were submitted by Missouri companies ranging from approximately $18 million to almost $21 million.

All of the bids were more than the $16.4 million MoDOT was expecting to pay for the work. It is unclear if the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission will accept Penzel’s low bid or reject all bids as it did in June when all bids exceeded the project’s estimated cost.

In June, MoDOT had projected the cost to be about $12 million and bids ranged between $18.5 million and $20 million. The commission rejected all those bids as being “excessively high.”

The project has been changed since the original plans were drawn up in an effort to lower costs.

The original plans called for keeping open during construction Hwy. 61 between Cape and Jackson and all four on/off ramps to I-55. The current plans call for closing the two northern I-55 ramps for about nine months.

While all the current bids still exceed the $16.4 million projected cost, they are much closer to the projected cost than the bids were last June.

The Commission will take action on the bids at its Jan. 9 meeting in Jefferson City.

If the bid is awarded, construction will begin in the spring, MoDOT’s District Engineer Mark Shelton told the Southeast Metropolitan Planning Organization last Wednesday at a meeting in the Osage Centre in Cape Girardeau.

Jackson Mayor Dwain Hahs reminded Shelton that several projects in the City of Jackson are being put on hold until the diverging diamond project is approved by the commission. These projects involve moving water and power lines as the location of East Jackson Boulevard (Hwy. 61) is shifted southward by MoDOT.

Shelton was asked by Jackson City Administrator Jim Roach if he thought the low bid is close enough to the budgeted amount to be awarded.

“You know, I have learned over the years that speculation only creates the tendency to find yourself in hot water,” Shelton replied. “I’m sorry, Jim, I need to stay away from that.”

The commission action will be either to accept or reject the bid, Shelton said. The commission won’t try to make any changes in the project to further lower costs.

Brian Gerau, president of the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce, said he appeared before the Highway Commission in September to ask for more money to be assigned to the project. Another $1 million to $1.5 million would have allowed the original plan to proceed at the lowest bid received at that time. But Gerau said he was told there was no additional money available.

Currently the low bid is about $900,000 over the budgeted amount. Gerau wondered if there was not another $1 million available in September for the project, how could there be another $900,000 now, if the low bid is accepted.
“Our commission will look at that. They make the final determination on that,” Shelton replied.

Gregory Dullum has worked for The Cash-Book Journal for more than 25 years. Prior to becoming the editor in May 2017, he was production manager, circulation manager and reporter. Before moving to Cape Girardeau in 1988, he was editor of the Saint Louis Park Sailor, a weekly community newspaper in suburban Minneapolis, MN. A native of Minnesota, he returned there after graduating with distinction in 1978 from Ambassador College in Pasadena, CA, with a degree in mass communications. His wife, Marie, whom he met in college, is a native of Zalma, a small town in southeast Missouri. They have two grown daughters and five grandchildren. Gregory may be reached at

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