East Bethel awards $2.1M contract for Hwy. 65 service road

East Bethel City Council, at its April 5 council meeting, approved a $2.18 million contract for S.R. Weidema of Maple Grove to construct the first phase of a service road along Highway 65. Key aspects of the project will include secondary – and safer – access to Highway 65 and additional municipal sewer and water hook ups.

The service road will run from 187th Lane to Viking Boulevard on the west side of Highway 65.

City Administrator Jack Davis expanded on the improvements the project will bring. According to Davis, Phase 1 provides a second point of ingress and egress to the commercial and light industrial area west of Highway 65 and between 185th and 189th Avenue and the first leg of a frontage or backage road along the west side of Highway 65 between Viking Boulevard and 187th Lane. It also provides another exit and entrance option at the intersection of 187th Lane and Highway 65 to a controlled intersection at Viking Boulevard.

Utility installation, as a part of this project, will provide a looped water system which will allow a service redundancy and increase the efficiency of system operations; and the road and utilities will access 70 acres of vacant land for future development.

“The benefits are safety, improved traffic flow and utilities systems operations and the potential to stimulate economic development along this road extension,” Davis said.

Financing for the project will come from the municipal state aid construction fund, street capital fund and the sewer and water bond funds. It will cover right-of-way acquisition, wetland credits, and other overhead costs.

Before the council voted 5-0 to approve the bid from S.R. Weidema, discussion revolved around two points needing clarity for council members.

Council Member Tom Ronning raised concerns about past work S.R. Weidema has done in East Bethel.

“In 2010 they put in a $300,000 change order for fuel charges. And they walked off the job for 45 days,” Ronning said.

Davis confirmed the walk off, and that it was due to a change order dispute.

Mayor Steve Voss said, “I believe the original change order was higher and we negotiated it down from about $400,000.”

Ronning also noted the substantial difference between the city estimate, the second place bid, and S.R Weidema’s bid. “The company has its own digging equipment and they can combine that service to enable a lower bid,” said City Engineer Craig Jocum. “They are comfortable with their bid.” J

ocum offered that in addition to the low bid, success with similar projects, past positive experience with the city and good references led to the recommendation for the bid to be awarded to S.R. Weidema.

Phase 1 is expected to begin before the end of this April and conclude in October of this year. Decisions for Phase 2, which will be either 187th Lane to Viking Blvd. or 187th Lane to Briarwood as part of the continuation of the city’s service road on the east side of Highway 65, will be part of the 2018 budget planning sessions.