One of the four teams contending for the estimated $5-billion Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project in New York state chose not to submit a bid at the last moment, forfeiting a $2.5-million stipend paid for bid submissions.

Three of the four teams short-listed for the project officially submitted their bids to the New York State Thruway Authority (NYSTA) on July 27. The fourth team, Hudson River Bridge Constructors, cancelled its bid unexpectedly, triggering some confusion among team members.

Hudson River Bridge Constructors is a joint venture of Dragados USA Inc., Flatiron Construction, Samsung E&C and Yonkers Contracting Co., with HNTB acting as design partner. Teams were required to present their bids to the state of New York by July 27, and the decision to not submit HRBC's bid came as the materials were about to be delivered.

"Pretty much everyone was shocked," said Theodore Zoli, national bridge chief engineer with HNTB and head of the firm's 35-person project design team.

Recounting what team members who were present told him, Zoli said, "The reps had unloaded the 17 boxes and were just waiting for the call to release them to [NYSTA]. But then the call is, 'Pull it.' "

The decision to pull the bid appears to have come from Flatiron Construction.

According to a statement from Linda Ames, senior communications manager with Samsung C&T, E&C Americas, "The complete proposal was delivered to Albany, N.Y., accompanied by staff from Dragados, Samsung and Yonkers. They were at the Thruway Authority's office ready to submit, awaiting the proper release from our fourth HRBC partner, Flatiron. Unfortunately, Flatiron did not provide its approval to submit the proposal or release its bid bond. As a result, HRBC was regrettably unable to submit the binding proposal."

In a statement, Flatiron Construction said "despite expending substantial resources in the procurement process, Flatiron and our parent company HOCHTIEF were not able to justify the risks we felt were associated with the project and consequently were not able to approve submittal of the proposal." Flatiron Construction is a unit of Hochtief, which, along with Dragados USA, is owned by Madrid-based ACS.

The exact cost of HRBC's bid preparation is unknown, but the NYSTA did set the stipend based on internal estimates. "Our in-house experts put it at about $5-million to $10-million to prepare a bid," said Brian Conybeare, spokesman for the Tappan Zee Bridge Project. "The $2.5-million is to help defray the cost."

The three teams that did submit bids for the bridge project are Kiewit-Skanska-Weeks Joint Venture (Kiewit Infrastructure Co., Skanska USA Civil Northeast Inc. and Weeks Marine Inc.), Tappan Zee Bridge Partners, a Bechtel/Tutor Perini Joint Venture (Bechtel Infrastructure Corp. and Tutor Perini Corp.) and Tappan Zee Constructors (Fluor Enterprises Inc., American Bridge Co., Granite Construction Northeast Inc. and Traylor Bros. Inc.).

The state is now reviewing their materials, and a record of decision is set for Sept. 4, 2012.

The final environmental impact statement for the project was released on Aug. 1.While the bridge's final design will not preclude mass transit, there is no mass-transit component in the current project.

Representatives of the New York State Thruway Authority have said construction of the new bridge is expected to begin by the end of 2012.

This story was updated to correct an accidental omission due to technical issues.