Contract awarded for construction of Mississippi River Trail

Despite bids coming in hundreds of thousands of dollars over the engineer’s estimate, Anoka is going ahead on a project that will connect walkers and bikers to a leg of the national Mississippi River Regional Trail between Anoka and Ramsey.

The project will construct a multi modal trail starting in Mississippi Community Park in Anoka, going west through King’s Island over two bridges and into Ramsey and terminates at Mississippi West Regional Park in Ramsey, according to Greg Lee, public services director and city engineer.

Only two bids were submitted on the project, with the lowest from Sunram Construction, Inc. at $1,219,072.50.

“This was significantly higher than our engineer’s estimate on the project,” Lee said.

Engineers expected it to cost $953,000 when the first estimate came out in April, Lee said. By the time the bid opening came in August, that estimate had crept up to $1.1 million.

While it isn’t typical for the council to award a contract when bids come in significantly over budget, there were a number of reasons why staff recommended the council accept the bid.

“Given that there was only two bids and it was significantly higher the question was whether to proceed with the project as is or rebidding the project,” Lee said.

“But the second highest bidder was $260,000 higher than the low bidder, so rebidding the project may lead to higher prices for the project.”

Funding for the trail will be shared by the cities of Anoka and Ramsey as well as Anoka County. The group has also received a $440,000 federal grant. The city of Anoka will contribute $594,000, the city of Ramsey $353,900 and $340,000 will come from Anoka County.

Anoka’s share of the project is higher because the most costly part of the project – the bridges on King’s Island – is in the city of Anoka, Lee said.

Mayor Phil Rice said that construction companies have been busy and the city is seeing bids on construction projects increase after several years of bids coming in well below engineer estimates.

“Being it’s more expensive for the city to complete than we had anticipated, it’s sort of rare for us to accept that,” Rice said.

But the construction contract was unanimously approved by the council.

“We try to be responsible, we try not to get lured in to taking a bid that is too high, but in this case the realistic concern is that we might wind up paying even more for a project like this,” Rice said.

He also said this is going to be an exciting portion of the Mississippi River Trail, which runs 3,000 miles along the river from the headwaters in Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico.

Councilmember Jeff Weaver predicts this segment of the trail will be very popular.

“When you think about how remote and wild when you get down on this island, it is remarkable how you don’t have a clue where you are at,” Weaver said. “It’s going to be a heavily used trail.”

Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]