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Judge denies motion to delay wastewater contract

WILLMAR -- District Judge Michael J. Thompson has denied a contractor's motion to temporarily restrain the city of Willmar from awarding a contract to the low bidder for the city's new wastewater treatment plant.

Thompson's one-page order was filed Tuesday in Kandiyohi County District Court. The order denies the request of second-lowest bidder Gridor Construction of Buffalo to restrain the city from awarding the contract to low-bidder Graham Construction Services of Eagan.

The judge said a memorandum of law will be issued in support of the order within 10 days.

Rhonda Rae, program manager for project consultant Donohue and Associates, said Wednesday that Donohue is pleased with the order and is happy to be able to move forward with the original bid as submitted.

During a hearing before Thompson on Aug. 27 in Willmar, Gridor's attorney Patrick Neaton of Chanhassen alleged that irregularities and ambiguities in Graham's low bid of $49,100,000 made Graham's bid unresponsive to project specifications.

Gridor's bid was the next lowest at $49,174,000. Engineer's estimate was $50,500,000. Six bids were opened by the city for the project on July 31.

James Thomson of Minneapolis, representing the city, told the court that the city had determined that Graham is the responsive low bidder and should be awarded the contract. Thomson said there were no material mistakes and no ambiguity in the bid form.

Thomson said the wastewater project is important and needs to proceed.

Mark Becker of Minneapolis, an attorney representing Graham, also said there were no irregularities in the company's bid.

The treatment plant and conveyance system are slated to begin operation in late 2010 or early 2011.

City Clerk-Treasurer Kevin Halliday said the City Council will have a special meeting at 4:45 p.m. Monday in Conference Room 1 at the City Office Building to award the contract to Graham Construction.

The council had delayed awarding the contract to Graham for the treatment plant portion of the project, but has awarded three other contracts for construction of the pressure pipe bringing industrial waste and the gravity interceptor sewer bringing municipal waste to the treatment site, located west of Willmar.

The project's budget is set at $86.2 million.