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Bemidji Regional Airport awards $7.87 million contract to Donlar to expand, upgrade terminal

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news Bemidji, 56619

Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Donlar Construction Co. was awarded a $7.87 million contract Wednesday to renovate and expand the Bemidji Regional Airport Terminal.

The unanimous vote by the Bemidji Regional Airport Authority came after weeks of going over the bid to find ways to cut costs -- and raise revenues.

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Donlar's bid was the lowest of five received on the project, but more than $1 million over project estimates.

"The biggest driver was the cost of steel," Airport Authority Executive Director Harold Van Leeuwen said in an interview. "We had a 90-day delay in the bid process, and in that time, the price of steel climbed 30 percent."

The project will involve a lot of steel, which makes up a significant portion of the project cost, he said. Provisions in the federal grant funds used for most of the project call for the use of products made in the United States, including the steel.

"There are only a few domestic mills left in the United States, and with economic stimulus projects being awarded, the demand for that steel has been greatly increased," Van Leeuwen said.

Bids were made with possible deducts, and Van Leeuwen said the authority will implement them in future project contract change orders. The authority has also worked out several value-added changes which will also lower the project cost.

Also, the state is allocating an additional $800,000 to the Bemidji project from unused airport funds for the fiscal year, he said.

By approving Donlar's base bid Wednesday, the authority beat by one day a federal deadline for encumbering funding for the terminal project.

At the request of authority member Jim Lucachick, Donlar also provided an idea of what local subcontractors would be hired on the job.

"It looks like over 50 percent of the value will go to local subcontractors," Van Leeuwen said.

It will still be several weeks before the project begins, as Donlar must submit a safety and phasing plan, which must be approved by the authority's owner representative, Construction Analysis & Management Inc.

The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2011. Put off was the addition of a jet bridge to the terminal, but it is expected to be added at the end of the project using next year's federal funds for airport improvements.

In other reports, Van Leeuwen said enplanements were down in April through several dropped flights, but are back up in May. Delta will start flying regional jets to Bemidji in early June, using Sky West aircraft.

The airport averages about 2,800 enplanements a month during the summer.

Infrastructure work at the airport's JOBZ site will be completed by June 15, he said, with a lift station pump problem resolved between the city and project engineers at no cost to the authority.

There still has been no action in Washington, D.C., on a new Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill, which Van Leeuwen said is to the airport's advantage. Federal funding now requires a 5 percent local match, but would need a 10 percent local match under the new bill.

The Airport Authority also passed a resolution making the Bemidji Pioneer its newspaper of legal record.

Y bswenson@bemidjipioneer.com

Donlar Construction Co. was awarded a $7.87 million contract Wednesday to renovate and expand the Bemidji Regional Airport Terminal.

The unanimous vote by the Bemidji Regional Airport Authority came after weeks of going over the bid to find ways to cut costs -- and raise revenues.

Donlar's bid was the lowest of five received on the project, but more than $1 million over project estimates.

"The biggest driver was the cost of steel," Airport Authority Executive Director Harold Van Leeuwen said in an interview. "We had a 90-day delay in the bid process, and in that time, the price of steel climbed 30 percent."

The project will involve a lot of steel, which makes up a significant portion of the project cost, he said. Provisions in the federal grant funds used for most of the project call for the use of products made in the United States, including the steel.

"There are only a few domestic mills left in the United States, and with economic stimulus projects being awarded, the demand for that steel has been greatly increased," Van Leeuwen said.

Bids were made with possible deducts, and Van Leeuwen said the authority will implement them in future project contract change orders. The authority has also worked out several value-added changes which will also lower the project cost.

Also, the state is allocating an additional $800,000 to the Bemidji project from unused airport funds for the fiscal year, he said.

By approving Donlar's base bid Wednesday, the authority beat by one day a federal deadline for encumbering funding for the terminal project.

At the request of authority member Jim Lucachick, Donlar also provided an idea of what local subcontractors would be hired on the job.

"It looks like over 50 percent of the value will go to local subcontractors," Van Leeuwen said.

It will still be several weeks before the project begins, as Donlar must submit a safety and phasing plan, which must be approved by the authority's owner representative, Construction Analysis & Management Inc.

The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2011. Put off was the addition of a jet bridge to the terminal, but it is expected to be added at the end of the project using next year's federal funds for airport improvements.

In other reports, Van Leeuwen said enplanements were down in April through several dropped flights, but are back up in May. Delta will start flying regional jets to Bemidji in early June, using Sky West aircraft.

The airport averages about 2,800 enplanements a month during the summer.

Infrastructure work at the airport's JOBZ site will be completed by June 15, he said, with a lift station pump problem resolved between the city and project engineers at no cost to the authority.

There still has been no action in Washington, D.C., on a new Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill, which Van Leeuwen said is to the airport's advantage. Federal funding now requires a 5 percent local match, but would need a 10 percent local match under the new bill.

The Airport Authority also passed a resolution making the Bemidji Pioneer its newspaper of legal record.

bswenson@bemidjipioneer.com

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