FAIRBANKS - Two bids the state received to build a new fish hatchery in Fairbanks came in millions over the expected costs, posing another challenge to the project.
The construction bids are more than $6 million over the state engineer's estimate.
Project manager Dave Kemp with the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities said the bids are another challenge to what already is proving to be a challenging project.
"It's not insurmountable," he said.
Kiewit Building Group, Inc. of Anchorage put in the low bid of $34.8 million to build the Ruth Burnett Sport Fish Hatchery. Alaska Mechanical Inc., also of Anchorage, entered a bid of $35.3 million. The state's estimate for construction of the hatchery was $27.7 million.
Kemp said state officials are trying to work on options to keep construction costs within $46 million.
"We would have hoped they would have been nearer to the engineer's estimate but they weren't so now we have to figure out how we can make this work," Kemp said. "We were disappointed, obviously, but if you look around the state at other federal, state and municipal projects, it's not that unusual."
The escalating cost of the Fairbanks hatchery, as well as a larger hatchery in Anchorage has been a problem for the Department of Fish and Game. The state issued nearly $70 million in bonds in 2005 to build the hatcheries, which at the time was considered enough to build both facilities. An increase in the cost of resident and nonresident sport fishing licenses was approved by the state legislature two years ago to help pay off the bonds.
The original cost of the Fairbanks hatchery was estimated at $25 million in 2005, but that number has ballooned by more than 65 percent to $46 million as a result of increasing costs of construction materials and higher fuel costs.
The projected cost of the Anchorage hatchery, which was originally projected at $46 million, is now up to $100 million.
Kemp wasn't sure how the higher bids would affect the construction schedule.
Ground work began on the facility last summer and construction is set to begin this summer. The facility is scheduled to open in the fall of next year.
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