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Colorado Bridge Work May Begin in February

December 20, 1990|VICKI TORRES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

PASADENA — Two-and-a-half years of repairs on the 77-year-old Colorado Street Bridge could begin as soon as February, officials said after the restoration of federal money for the project.

On Tuesday, the Federal Highway Administration told the city that $20.2 million in federal money withheld because of concerns about cost overruns would be restored. City and county money also will be used for the $27.4-million project.

The restoration means that the city can sign a construction contract with Kiewit Pacific Co., the low bidder on the work.

In 1988, the project was estimated by the city engineer at $15.8 million. But costs skyrocketed because the city had not anticipated the extensive manual work needed to tear down and replace concrete surrounding the bridge's steel supports.

After the federal agency abruptly rescinded funding last month, Kiewit told city officials it could wait only until mid-January before withdrawing. Besides repair and restoration, the bridge will be strengthened to protect against damage from an earthquake.

Completion is scheduled for the end of 1993, said Cynthia Kurtz, the city's acting public works director.

"I think we're on the right track now," Kurtz said. "We have a very good project, a good contract and a good contractor."

Federal officials also were concerned that only two construction companies bid on the project, that Kiewit had not met affirmative action goals and that the city might sacrifice other necessary street projects to spend $6 million of city funds on the bridge.

The federal money was released after Pasadena's congressional representatives and Gov.-elect Pete Wilson lobbied federal transportation officials.

But federal officials said in a letter Tuesday that no more money is available for any other cost increases. The bridge has been shut since November, 1989.

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