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Court's ruling opens way for Renville County, Minn., to award road project

OLIVIA -- Some of the earliest soybean and corn harvesting will likely take place along a three-mile stretch of Renville County Road 11.

The Renville County Board of Commissioners learned Tuesday that the Court of Appeals has ruled against the low bidder for a project to rebuild the roadway from County Road 16 to Minnesota Highway 4.

With the court's ruling issued, the County Board of Commissioners indicated that they intend to award the bid to the second low bidder on the project so that work can get under way yet this year. The project had been put on hold since the Sept, 7, 2011, bidding pending the court decision.

The Court of Appeals upheld a decision by the Minnesota Department of Transportation to disqualify the low bidder for the project, Central Specialties Inc., of Alexandria. MnDOT's Office of Civil Rights had determined that the company had not met the requirements for participation by disadvantaged business enterprises. The requirement needed to be met in this project since federal funds are being used.

Central Specialties had offered the low bid of $2,345,910. The county intends to award the bid to the next low bidder, Knife River Corporation of Sauk Rapids. Its bid of $2,373,415 is $27,505 higher than the disqualified bid.

Knife River intends to honor its original bid, and plans to begin work this year if awarded the project, according to Marlin Larson, Renville County Public Works director.

With the matter in court, some farmers along the route planted crops in the project right of way, according to Renville County Commissioner Ralph Novotny of Buffalo Lake. He said they did so at their own risk, and will now likely move quickly to harvest them ahead of the arrival of the road construction equipment.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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