A team of American Bridge Co., Pittsburgh, and Edward Kraemer & Sons Inc., Plain, Wis., was apparent low bidder on the last of three contracts for the new Woodrow Wilson bridge across the Potomac River near Washington, D.C. All four proposals received by the Maryland State Highway Administration at the May 1 bid opening came in well below the agency's $255-million estimate.

The American Bridge-Kraemer venture's bid of $191.2 million was 25% below the
state estimate. Second-lowest was Fru-Con Construction Corp., Ballwin, Mo.,
at $197.5 million. They were followed by Tidewater Skanska Inc., Virginia Beach-Traylor Bros. Inc., Evansville, Ind. at $203.1 million, and a team led by Cianbro Corp.,
Pittsfield, Maine, at $213.3 million.

American Bridge and Kraemer also won the first of the Wilson bridge contracts, awarded on Jan. 31, for the bascule portion of each of the two planned six-lane parallel bridges.

The state split the bridge superstructure into three separate contracts after its initial, single-contract approach drew just one bid in later 2001, which came in at $860 million, or more than 70% above its estimate.

If the American Bridge-Kraemer bid holds, the three contracts' total value would be $491 million, only $4 million above the agency's 2001 estimate and about $360 million below the single 2001 bid.

The bridge superstructure is the central element in a $2.56-billion project, which also includes major upgrades to four large Capital Beltway interchanges leading up to the crossing. Project officials increased the project cost last year in an updated financial plan. But Robert Douglass, SHA's director for the bridge project says, "We're back on our original budget."

The latest contract is the largest of the three, covering the 3,300-foot stretch from the Maryland abutment across more than three-quarters of the Potomac's width, to the bascule section, Officials are aiming to open the outer bridge in late 2005 or early 2006 and the inner bridge two years later.