General contractor bids out for Coon Rapids dam project

Bids are out for the general contractor contract for the Coon Rapids Dam rehabilitation project.

The Coon Rapids Dam.
The Coon Rapids Dam.

According to Jason Boyle, state dam safety engineer, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the bids will be opened March 7.

But it is unlikely that a contract will be awarded until April because of the bids review and vetting process that is undertaken by the Minnesota Department of Administration, which is responsible for state contract awards, Boyle said.

Under a joint powers agreement with Three Rivers Park District, which owns and operates the Coon Rapids Dam, the state DNR is solely responsible for the reconstruction of the dam.

The project, scheduled for construction in 2013 and 2014, is being funded by $16 million from the 2011 state bonding bill, approved by the Minnesota Legislature and signed by Gov. Mark Dayton.

The rehabilitation project is designed to make the dam a more effective barrier to the migration of invasive fish species, like Asian carp, as well as to extend the life of the dam.

Through the joint powers agreement, the DNR is responsible for the management of the dam as a fish barrier.

The decision to replace the existing rubber gates at the dam came after scour damage downstream of the dam was confirmed by an underwater sonar scan in 2009, while the existing rubber gates have had periodic tears.

New steel gates will be installed at the dam and a contract for them to be made was awarded by the DNR to the low bidder, Rodney Hunt Company, Orange, Mass., last fall.

According to Boyle, the contract is for some $3.5 million and includes alternates.

The contract falls within the budget for the manufacture of the gates – there will be nine of them, Boyle said.

They will be delivered on schedule in June or July, he said.

Meanwhile, Stanley Consultants, Minneapolis, the firm selected by the DNR at a cost of $900,000 to do the design and engineering for the project, has completed that work, according to Boyle.

“And all the state permits for the project have been received,” Boyle said.

The project has been split in two phases. Work on the Anoka County side of the Mississippi River will take place in 2013 and on the Hennepin County side in 2014, according to Boyle.

Boyle anticipates that the general contractor will start mobilizing on-site for the work on the Anoka County side in May, depending on spring run-off on the Mississippi River, he said.

A cofferdam will be built, the existing rubber gates will be removed and the new steel gates will be installed, Boyle said.

The same process will be repeated on the Hennepin County side in 2014, he said.

Work will also take place downstream of the dam this year to fix scour damage to the apron of the dam.

The entire project is expected to be completed in the fall of 2014.

According to Boyle, it is anticipated that the pool level above the Coon Rapids Dam will be kept at or near normal summer pool levels for the duration of the project and beyond.

Under its joint powers agreement with Three Rivers Park District, the DNR is responsible for setting pool operation parameters.

It was a reconstruction plan for the dam that Stanley Consultants, working for the park district, presented in early 2011 to the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Commission, which was established by the 2010 Minnesota Legislature to consider the future of the dam, that was the basis for the $16 million state bonding bill allocation in 2011.

Stanley Consultants had been hired by the park district to evaluate the effectiveness of the dam to keep invasive fish species, like the Asian carp, from moving upstream.

The proposal Stanley presented in 2011 was to replace the present rubber gates with steel gates that pass water over the top of dam.

That would be an ideal fish barrier and would make the dam 99 percent effective as a barrier to invasive fish species, Marty Weber, an engineer with Stanley Consultants told the commission in 2011.

The Coon Rapids Dam was built in 1913 by Northern States Power (NSP) Co. to generate hydroelectric power.

When power generation stopped in the 1960s, NSP donated the dam and surrounding land on both sides of the river to the park district.

Anoka County now owns all the park property on the Anoka County side of the dam.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]