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Kandiyohi County, Minn., gets break on road projects

WILLMAR - Kandiyohi County is getting a break on the price of several road reconstruction projects slated for this summer.

Bids were approved Tuesday for the grading and aggregate base on three county roads that were well below the engineer's estimates and well below many other bidders.

In one case the low bid was 25 percent below the estimate.

In another case the winning bid was $326,000 lower than the highest bid.

"I think that it's an extremely competitive bidding climate and a real desire and need for contractors to have some work to do," said Gary Danielson, Kandiyohi County Public Works Director.

"There's no question that affected these bids," said Danielson. "It's certainly good for the county. It may not be good for the contractors."

Minnerath Construction Inc. of Cold Spring was the low bidder for two projects, including the reconstruction of County Road 38 in Lake Andrew Township and County Road 130 in Irving Township.

The county will turn back ownership of both roads to the townships once the reconstruction is completed.

For the Lake Andrew Township road, the estimate was $220,276 and the low bid was $172,869.

The Irving Township road was estimated to cost $565,392. The low bid of $423,991 was 25 percent below the estimate.

The highest bid for that project came from Riley Brothers Construction Inc. at $750,443 - a difference of $326,452 from Minnerath's low bid.

"Very little money was left on the table today," said Danielson, who was curious about the large disparity in the bids and how that could affect contractors.

Danielson said he hopes the weather cooperates this summer so that contractors can work efficiently and not lose money on the jobs.

The commissioners approved another bid for grading and aggregate base for County Road 4, northeast of Green Lake, that was also well below the estimate.

The estimate for that project was $576,518 with Duininck Inc. of Prinsburg coming with the low bid of $451,416.

The highest bid for that project was $615,461 from Central Specialties Inc. of Alexandria.

Danielson said it's been years since he has seen lower-than-expected prices for moving dirt and road reconstruction.

That helps offset the exceptionally high cost of asphalt.

Although the Irving Township road will remain gravel, the Lake Andrew Township road will be paved this year. Bids were already awarded for that part of the project, with costs that were higher than expected, said Danielson.

County Road 4 will be paved next year.

Getting a break this year on the grading and aggregate base will free up money for more projects next year without a hefty levy increase, said Danielson.

In other action:

*An update was presented on progress being made by employees in the public health, family services, community corrections and veterans affairs departments who are on committees working to integrate the departments. Eventually public health and family services will operate as one department.

*The commissioners approved a proposal by Ron Adams, a visual artist from Willmar, to install a series of paintings in the Health and Human Services building that depicts historical individuals from Kandiyohi County. The project is contingent on Adams receiving a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board that would fund his work.

If the project becomes reality it would "add some real class and culture to the white walls" of the main floor of the building, said Chairman Harlan Madsen.

*The commissioners were informed that the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources approved the county's comprehensive water plan.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750