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CITY: Council takes action on three 2017 projects

BEMIDJI—A trio of construction projects, two related to roads and another to enhance downtown decor, were discussed by the Bemidji City Council on Monday.

Reconstruction of Delton Avenue Northwest as well as improvements on five other city streets linked together as one project are the road issues and a new gateway arch welcoming people to to downtown was the other, as council members discussed bids and costs.

The street projects have been in the works for awhile and were authorized by the council in December.

On Delton Avenue, the project will remove and replace the existing bituminous surface along with the concrete curb and gutter from 15th Street to Paul Bunyan Drive. Additionally, from 15th Street to 22nd Street, the road will be narrowed from 40-feet wide to 30 feet to allow for a new 5-foot boulevard and a 5-foot concrete sidewalk. The roadway from 22nd Street to Paul Bunyan Drive will remain at 40 feet.

Along with the street itself, the project will include the replacement of a 60-year-old clay sanitary sewer main with a newer PVC main.

The construction estimate from Bemidji City Engineer Craig Gray was $735,000 and the low bid received was $633,036.81, provided by Reierson Construction. After including the costs for engineering and inspection, the overall price comes to $760,000.

According to Gray, this is $100,000 less than the anticipated amount when considering engineering and inspection costs. After the project's presentation, the council unanimously approved the bid.

The second project, improving five roads in the city, is the continuation of an annual procedure done in Bemidji to repair multiple streets. Called the Street Renewal Project, the 2017 edition includes:

• Roosevelt Road Southwest from Washington Avenue to Clausen Avenue.

• Shevlin Avenue Southwest from Roosevelt Road to Seventh Street.

• 25th Street Northwest from Irvine Avenue to Minnesota Avenue.

• Minnesota Avenue Northwest from 25th Street to 26th Street.

• 29th Street Northwest from Irvine Avenue to Birchmont Drive.

The construction estimate from Gray was $1,146,900 and the low bid came from Kuechle Underground Inc. at $1,038,566.29. After accounting for inspection and engineering, the cost comes to $1,280,000, or $96,000 less than expected, Gray said. A motion was made and carried to award the bid.

The gateway project, meanwhile, did not have a bid awarded, with the council opting to make that decision at its March 13 meeting. However, in a 4-2 vote, the council did approve increasing its funding commitment to the project, for which it has partnered with the Bemidji Downtown Alliance.

The archway is planned for construction over Third Street at the intersection of Bemidji Avenue.

Kraus Anderson Construction submitted a bid of $82,900 along with an added alternate of $3,000, Gray said. Combining that with design and inspection costs, the total is $98,600.

As a result, some differences were made to create a potential change order, reducing the bid by $8,500, for a total of $90,100. When accounting for contingency costs, the total amount comes to $95,600.

Because the city made a financial commitment not to exceed $40,000 and the amount is higher than initially expected, a recommendation was made to contribute an additional $5,000 for the project. The money, according to city documents, would come from the Community Development Fund.

"I think it would be a shame if the additional $5,000 from the city is what held it back," Ward 1 City Council member Michael Meehlhause said. "When we've already agreed to a contribution and there is a fund that seems like it's a natural fit for this."

"When we passed this motion on the $40,000, what we included and told the taxpayer is that it's not to exceed $40,000," Ward 5 councilor Nancy Erickson said. "It's hard for me to go against 'not to exceed,' because then it means nothing."

Meehlhause, Mayor Rita Albrecht, Ward 3 councilor Ron Johnson and at-large member Dave Larson voted in favor of approving the $5,000 increase while Erickson and Ward 2 councilor Roger Hellquist were against.

After the meeting, City Manager Nate Mathews said the hope for the March 13 meeting is that the BDA will come forward with a commitment to cover the rest of the remaining costs of the project. The BDA holds its next meeting Wednesday.

Matthew Liedke

Matthew Liedke is the city, county and state government reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. He also covers business, politics and financial news.

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