153rd Avenue area projects in Ham Lake moving forward

The 153rd Avenue reconstruction project east of Highway 65 in Ham Lake will cost more than the original bid.

The Ham Lake City Council Aug. 6 unanimously approved a change order in the amount of $114,118.64 for Rum River Contracting of Princeton, which is reconstructing the road between Highway 65 and Radisson Road.

Although the city knew the soils below the road were not good, Rum River Contracting discovered the soil conditions were also bad in the area where the road would be widened.

“It’s going to cost a little more, but we’ll have a good road when we’re done,” Councilmember Gary Kirkeide said.

The first change order to this project brings the contract cost to $834,291.81. Including the city’s other costs of easement acquisition, engineering, permits and legal publications, the estimated cost to date is about $997,500, according to City Engineer Tom Collins.

Ham Lake has enough outside funding to cover the increased costs. Anoka County used to control the road, but paid the city $1.275 million in December 2010 to take over ownership.

Collins said the city placed the $1.275 million from the county in the city’s revolving street loan fund so any leftover money could be used on other road projects. The nearby service road on the east side of Highway 65 between 153rd and 159th avenues is more expensive than originally anticipated mostly because of the extensive legwork that has gone on to get the road project approved by the federal government, so the county dollars could be used for that project, he said.

Northern Technologies, Inc., which conducted the first geotechnical report, had to make a return site visit to do more site evaluations and come up with recommendations. Collins said the city has already paid the invoice of $3,650 for the original geotechnical report.

There was only one recommendation for the western and central portions of the project, but three options for the eastern end of the project area, he said.

The alternative the city chose for the eastern portion excavates two feet of muck, places a geogrid material above the remaining muck, places a layer of granual material and then another layer of geogrid material.

One concept that Northern Technologies Inc. suggested was completely excavating the muck soils in this easterly section and building up the road base with granular material. This option would have cost $302,238.67 more than the alternative Collins recommended and that the city council approved.

“We’re trying to do the most cost-effective improvement,” Collins said.

The unknown condition of the soils and the differing opinions between the county and city were issues that had to be resolved in negotiations between the two government bodies in 2010, Collins previously said.

Collins in February 2011 had told the council that he originally estimated reconstruction would cost $1.5 million while the county’s estimate was $1.075 million. The two sides compromised on $1.275 million.

“We knew the soils were going to be bad out there and we’re still ahead by doing this, and it will be a better fix than the county has ever done out there,” Kirkeide said.

According to Collins, only the first layer of blacktop will be placed this year so corrections can be made next spring if there are any issues. The final layer should be in place by late June 2013.


Service road bid

The council Monday night approved a $1,457,737.76 bid from North Pine Aggregate of Forest Lake for the construction of the 153rd to 159th avenues service road.

The engineer’s construction estimate was $1,430,915.16.

The city received a $1.3 million grant from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) for this project although 8 percent of this is reserved for construction administration costs, according to Collins.

As far as covering the low bid from North Pine Aggregate, MnDOT grant’s will contribute $1,203,703.70, another source of MnDOT funding through the Municipal State Aid program will cover $115,737.72, and the city of Ham Lake will pay $138,296.34, Collins said.

In addition to the road construction costs, there have been numerous other costs totaling $472,908 that the city has had to cover, according to Finance Director Sharon Kutzke. This includes engineering fees, land appraisals and acquisitions, an environmental assessment report, surveying work, for example.

The reason this project has been more complex can be traced back to Anoka County Parks receiving a $150,000 grant in 2002 to construct new trails, parking lots, restrooms, baseball fields, roads, signs, an observation dock and plant new landscaping within the 120-acre Ham Lake Park, according to Collins.

The grant came from the federal Land and Water Conversion Act, called LAWCON for short, which is managed by the National Parks Service.

The trade-off for the grant is that no piece of Ham Lake Park could be touched by development such as a road unless there was extensive review of environmental impacts and park replacement land was purchased to make up for the value of the land lost by the road development.

Eric Hagen is at [email protected]