GONZALES — Ascension Parish government is drawing up contracts in preparation for construction to start on two road improvement projects costing a combined $2.2 million, officials said Tuesday.

Low bids on both projects came in under estimates, a factor expected to add to savings in construction funds that could be applied to additional projects next year, parish officials said.

One of the projects calls for resurfacing or reconstructing 36 roads extending a little more than eight miles at a cost of $1.98 million, parish documents show.

Originally estimated to cost $2.8 million, the project is part of the annual parish overlay program paid for by sales tax revenue.

The second new project involves adding northbound turn lanes from La. 621 and La. 929 westbound onto Airline Highway at a cost of $199,444, parish documents show.

The Parish Council ratified the low bidders for each project with 7-0 votes on Thursday, backing recommendations earlier this month by the council’s Transportation Committee.

Coastal Bridge Co. LLC beat out three other firms for the overlay job. Bids ranged from Coastal Bridge’s bid of $1.98 million to a nearly $2.4 million offer by F.G. Sullivan Jr. Contractor LLC, a parish bid summary says.

Expert Maintenance Services LLC beat out two other bidders on the turn lane jobs. Bids ranged from Expert Maintenance’s bid of $199,444 to a $321,305 offer by R.J. Daigle and Sons Contractors Inc., a parish bid summary says.

The turn lane upgrades are part of the 2004 intersection improvement program, which was proposed to improve traffic congestion at busy intersections.

Chief parish engineer Ben Laurie said that once built, the turn lane on La. 929 would be more than 300 feet long and the La. 621 turn lane would be about 350 feet long.

“We’re thinking that it’s because of the economy, that a lot of the contractors started sharpening their pencil,” Brian Martinez, parish Department of Public Works project manager, told the Parish Council’s Roads Committee earlier this month, according to videotape.

Parish President Tommy Martinez told the same council committee that the parish was having a very good year for projects coming in under estimates.

Laurie said Tuesday that he needs to sit down with the contractors involved in the overlay and turn lane projects in order to complete the construction timelines.

He said he did not know when work would start once contracts are signed, but hopes to avoid rainy weather this fall.

“I’m trying to get both of those going as soon as possible to take advantage of the good weather before the rains set in, in the fall,” Laurie said.