Sunwood contract approved

With work set to begin later this month on the new Sunwood Drive/Armstrong Boulevard alignment, the Ramsey City Council has awarded the construction contract to North Pine Aggregate, Inc.

The council June 26 approved the $2,342,826 contract on a 6-1 vote. Councilmember David Elvig was the only dissenting vote.

Six bids were received on the project, ranging from the lowest of $2,342,826 to the highest of $3,212,878.

The engineer’s cost estimate was $2,935,000.

The project includes the roadway realignment of Sunwood Drive, between approximately Zeolite Street and Armstrong Boulevard, changing the two-lane Armstrong Boulevard to a four-lane divided roadway, adding dedicated turn lanes, a roundabout, raised medians and pedestrian amenities as well as the installation of a signal light at the intersection of Sunwood Drive and Armstrong Boulevard (CSAH 83).

It will also shift the existing Armstrong Boulevard/Sunwood Drive intersection 500 feet to the north.

The total cost of the project, including the acquisitions on three parcels, is approximately $5,627,000.

Anoka County will be paying for about $1.7 million of the project cost and the city will by paying for its portion using $2,801,533 from its equipment revolving fund, tax increment financing from District 2, storm water utility fund, water utility fund, sanitary sewer utility fund, Economic Development Authority funds and street light utility fund.

The city will also be using $500,000 in excess rail funding, which resulted because of the Ramsey Northstar Rail station bids came in lower than expected, and a $500,000 Local Road Improvement Project (LRIP) grant from the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

The city engineering department plans on doing the construction administration to save costs, but Mayor Bob Ramsey is concerned after City Engineer Tim Himmer’s June 29 departure that the remaining three members of the department will not be able to handle the work load.

It is a lot for staff to take on and what happens to the other stuff that needs to get done, he said.

Road staking for the Sunwood project will be contracted out and not done by the city engineering department, Himmer said.

The city is hiring a engineering consultant to run the department until it can hire a new city engineer and many of the other projects the department has been working on are nearly done, on schedule or have been delayed for other reasons, such as the Mississippi Trail project, which is waiting on federal funding, he said.

While Ramsey said he is ready for the road project to move forward, he does not have enough information on who will be covering what portion of the project, including the construction management, to vote for it. When the vote was taken, however, Ramsey did vote in favor of the project.

Elvig is concerned about the timing of the project.

While the city received a really good bid for the construction, he is concerned about how much money the council is pulling from city utility and TIF funds and what level it will leave in those fund pools, he said.

The city has put a lot of money into The COR and a lot of other projects and and now is trying to make more saleable lots, Elvig said.

“We don’t even have letters of intent (in the COR) and here we go plowing into another project,” he said.

Elvig offered an amendment to the contract motion to have the road project delayed until more land development occurs.

The amendment was defeated.

Elvig said he is very nervous about putting another $5.5 million into The COR given it doesn’t have any letters of intent to purchase and has only sold one property.

COR Development Manager Darren Lazan said no letters of intent are done for the COR, they go straight to purchase agreements.

There are two deals in process, both on properties being created by the new Sunwood Drive, he said.

Councilmember Jason Tossey said he had concerns about the funding before talking to Himmer, but now he wants to move ahead with the project because if it does not, the city could lose some of the funding and grants.

The bidding came in less than estimate and the city needs to move ahead because a delay could increase the costs, Tossey said.

“I want this road done and I want the interchange done,” he said.

This project will take a hunk out of the future Highway 10/Armstrong Boulevard interchange project, which will bring down the cost of that project, Himmer said.

The council will consider the construction management contract for engineering, staking, administration, inspections and record plans July 10.

Tammy Sakry is at [email protected]