HUGO — After bids came in higher than expected, the City Council rejected bids Aug. 19 for the Elmcrest Avenue and Cedar Street improvement project, which had been planned for construction yet this year.
The council approved a joint powers agreement (JPA) with the city of Lino Lakes March 18 for the paving of sections of 24th Avenue/Elmcrest Avenue and East Cedar Street. Elmcrest Avenue serves as the border between the two cities north of Frenchman Road, and East Cedar Street, which remains largely unpaved, lies within the city of Lino Lakes but is used by drivers of both communities. The JPA outlined that the East Cedar Street improvements would be the financial responsibility of the city of Lino Lakes and the 24th Avenue/Elmcrest Avenue improvements would be the financial responsibility of the city of Hugo.
Four bids were received: the low bid, from T.A. Shifsky and Sons Inc., was $777,552, more than $179,000 above the engineer’s estimate for the project. The amount for the 24th Avenue/Elmcrest Avenue improvements came in at $211,960, which was $50,700 over the engineer’s estimate.
“The bids were 23% higher than we anticipated,” City Engineer Mark Erichson explained. “These are higher bid prices than we have seen in the past. I am confident that we could get lower bid prices next year, but there is no guarantee.”
Councilman Phil Klein asked Erichson whether the area would see any significant safety or drainage issues if the project is delayed. Erichson said, “There is not any proposed drainage improvements on our project. For the most part, the drainage is working adequately out there. From a safety standpoint, I think it is certainly better to have the roadway paved, I think public works and the residents would prefer to have it paved. It has been this way for some time and one additional season I don’t think is going to make a significant difference.”
Councilwoman Becky Petryk wanted to know whether Lino Lakes could still move forward with its portion of the project if Hugo rejected bids for its project. Erichson said, “If we reject bids, I believe they will as well. If we accept bids, they may (still) reject bids because they were significantly higher than what they had identified. I can’t speak for them.”
City Administrator Bryan Bear added, “If bids are rejected by either one us or both of us, we would hope that Lino Lakes’ project manager would immediately rebid the project for next year. We would ask their council to initiate the process to rebid and approve that this fall for construction in the spring.”
In a follow-up interview, Lino Lakes Engineer Diane Hankee said the council would consider a resolution to rebid the project for construction in spring 2020 at its Aug. 26 meeting, after press deadlines.
Councilman Chuck Haas said he would be in favor of going ahead with the project this fall. “From a safety standpoint, from the public works department maintaining a gravel road and the residents having to drive on a gravel road, I wouldn’t object to going ahead with the project,” he said.
Kline added, “We have been having issues with these gravel roads in the past and I’d like to see us eliminate some of these. For one, it makes it a lot easier for our maintenance people to take care of, and secondly, it is a huge blessing for the individuals that live on that road that have to deal with that gravel and mud on a daily basis.”
Wedit said, “I have been on the side of approving the project even with the increase. I am kind of leaning toward going the other way for a couple of reasons. I don’t think that there is any chance that Lino Lakes is going to approve it ... I am concerned with T.A. Shifsky being the low bid when they are usually the high one. It is clear that no one wants to do the project this fall, and if they don’t want to do it, I am concerned it won’t turn out well. We want to spend the money once and be done.”
A motion was made to approve a resolution receiving bids and awarding the construction contract to T.A. Shifsky and Sons Inc. The motion failed 3-2: Weidt, Petryk and Mike Miron voted against.
A motion was then made to reject all bids and move forward with the project by getting bids this fall for construction next spring. The motion passed unanimously. A resolution was also passed directing city staff to negotiate an amendment to the JPA with the city of Lino Lakes.
Editor Shannon Granholm can be reached at 651-407-1227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.