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Renville County Road 11 will remain open for harvest to Oct. 8

OLIVIA -- Acting as the road authority, the Renville County Board of Commissioners agreed Tuesday not to allow a contractor to close a three-mile stretch of County Road 11 until Oct. 8.

The action came in response to concerns by farmers in the northeastern portion of the county who rely on the road to transport corn, soybeans and sugar beets during the harvest season.

The road serves as a critical east-west route to elevators and the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative during the harvest, and will handle several thousand truck trips during the busy season, farmers at the meeting said.

It also comes after the commissioners noted that the project contractor, Knife River Associates, would likely take legal or other action against the county to recover losses it will claim due to the delay in closing the road.

Road closed signs went up Monday on County Road 11 from its junction at County Road 16 to Minnesota Highway 4. Knife River Corporation of Sauk Rapids and a subcontractor had mobilized to begin milling the three-mile stretch as part of a $2,373,415 project to rebuild the three-mile segment.

The late start is due to the fact that the project had been tied up in litigation for essentially an entire year. The project had been awarded by the county on Sept. 7, 2011, to Central Specialties of Alexandria, the low bidder. The Minnesota Department of Transportation'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 challenged the ruling, but an August court decision went against the company. The Renville County Board of Commissioners awarded the project to the next low bidder, Knife River Corporation, on Aug. 28.

Tom Cherveny

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

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