Construction bids for Arlington County’s planned aquatics center at Long Bridge Park came in "significantly higher” than expected, County Manager Barbara Donnellan said Friday, as she announced that she will not take the bids to the County Board.
Donnellan had expected to move the project forward this winter, but she said in a statement released Friday afternoon that the bids “came in significantly higher than our architects’ estimates.” After the county staff assesses those bids and its own estimates, she said, “I will present options to the County Board for next steps.”
Donnellan could not be reached immediately for comment. Exactly how high the construction estimates or bids are is not publicly known. The project is already a few months behind schedule, and construction is expected to take about two years.
Arlington voters approved a bond measure in November 2012 that allowed the county to spend about $40 million on the design and construction of the 50-meter competition pool, teaching, family and therapy pools, as well as “wet classrooms/party rooms” and an indoor fitness area. The project, an expansion of a two-year-old park of soccer fields built atop a former industrial site full of toxic waste, was expected to cost almost $80 million.
Last month, the county boosted its estimate of what it would cost each year to operate the aquatics center, from about $1.5 million to $4 million, according to projections included in the manager’s budget forecast. The county is facing a potential budget gap of $20 to $25 million next fiscal year.