Anoka City Council to consider East Main bids

Monday the Anoka City Council will consider the bids on this summer’s major reconstruction of East Main Street.

The base project – replacing the street and sidewalks from the Rum River through Fifth Avenue – was estimated to cost just under $4 million.

The low bid, by Northwest Asphalt, came in just over the engineer’s estimate, according to information provided by Public Services Director and City Engineer Greg Lee.

In addition to the base project, the city also included six bid alternates – mainly aesthetic and safety improvements for the downtown – potentially adding nearly $1.5 million to the project costs.

Those alternates include lighting for the Rum River bridge as well as upgrades to the city hall parking lot, as well as the city-owned lot beside Billy’s. Also an alternate in the proposal is the addition of a mid-block crosswalk between Second and Third avenues.

Northwest Asphalt, which staff will recommend be awarded the contract, was the same company that handled the West Main Street reconstruction in 2010.

“That is really good news,” said Lee. “Northwest has done work here before and it is familiar with the city’s expectations.”

West Main was considered a very successful project, with both construction and phasing receiving high marks from the city and West Main business owners.There were 15 plan holders on the East Main project, but only two contractors submitted bids.

“I was a little concerned about the bidding on East Main,” said Lee, who pointed to a couple of reasons why so few companies chose to bid on the job.

“The city was very specific on the phasing of this project, giving contractors a specific time they could spend on each block,” said Lee. “Generally contracts prefer to phase things themselves. When this happens they can either back off or raise their bid prices.”

The city wanted to retain more control over how the project would be handled, according to Lee.

“The sole reason for this was so the downtown businesses can stay healthy and survive through construction,” said Lee. “We didn’t want to give a contractor free reign over the downtown for the whole summer season.”

The long list of bid alternates could have also discouraged some contractors.

“When there are uncertainties in a project, that also can cause contractors to back off,” said Lee.

But the advantage to having those bid alternates is to give the council the flexibility to choose add ons the project they might feel are a good deal, he said.

Back in 2010 the city received 11 bids on the West Main project, which included only three bid alternates.

If the council moves ahead with the bid award Monday, construction is scheduled to begin April 23.

Lee said signage will go up two weeks in advance, warning drivers East Main is going to be under construction.

The contractor will start on the south side of East Main at the Rum River Bridge and work its way to the east. Once it reaches the project limit at Fifth Avenue, construction will start on the north side and work its way west.

Reconstruction will also coincide with Anoka County’s upgrades to the Seventh and Main intersection, which will add turn lanes in all four directions. That work is scheduled to begin in late summer or early fall, according to Lee.

Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]