West St. Paul opens low Robert St. bids; council ‘excited’

On Tuesday, West St. Paul opened a second round of bids for the first phase of the Robert Street reconstruction. The lowest bid was $1.14 million under the estimated cost of $24.2 million, spurring some excitement among city staff and the West St. Paul City Council. The council will meet Feb. 5 to discuss the project. (File photo)

Public invited to Feb. 5 meeting

After delaying phase one of the Robert Street revamp due to higher-than-anticipated costs, West St. Paul on Tuesday received construction proposals as much as $5.5 million less than the lowest bid from the first time around, leaving city officials hopeful about the project’s future.

“It looks like we’re going to be able to move forward with our project,” council member Dick Vitelli said. “A completed Robert Street is going to be a kickstart for redevelopment of properties that aren’t used or underused. I’m excited for the future.”

The lowest submission, from Eureka Construction in Lakeville, came in at more than $23 million, about $1.14 million below the city’s estimate of $24.2 million, which was revised in December. 

The West St. Paul City Council will gather for a special public meeting 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 5 at City Hall to discuss how the project moves forward. 

The project consultant is now “checking the math” on all of the bids to make sure things add up, according to Matt Saam, public works director and city engineer.

Low gas and diesel prices and timing may have been factors in the competitive bids, Saam said. 

“We’ve said this is the best time to bid,” Saam said two hours after the bids were opened. “Everyone’s looking to get all of their work lined up for next year.”

Newly-elected West St. Paul Mayor David Meisinger said he’s “glad we’re back to the original estimate.”

“I’d say it’s one piece of the puzzle,” Meisinger said. He said he hopes to have a definitive “lump sum” for the entire project, including both phases and land acquisitions, adding that the “public deserves” to be presented with the updated final cost, as well as the impact on taxes.

“Then, the council can take a vote on it,” he said, adding that the council may not vote formally on the project’s future until the Feb. 23 meeting. 

Two phases, three funders

The two-phase overhaul will create a divided four-lane road, eliminating the current continuous left-turn lane and add a landscaped median, new sidewalk and LED street lights.

The first phase — the one rebid in December — includes the street, signals and utilities, paid for through a combination of federal, state and city funds. In addition to the estimated $24.2 million for construction, the city estimates there will be $3.3 million in overhead and $3.45 million for property acquisition and right-of-way costs.

The second phase is expected to include the boulevards, sidewalks and landscaping, totaling about $4.7 million that would be funded locally. If the council pursues both phases, they’re expected to cost a total of nearly $35.65 million, according to estimates from December.

It was thought that construction companies primarily didn’t have the staff to respond to the previous bid; the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s approval and the federal-aid process had already slowed the project the summer of 2014.

Another wrench was thrown in the works two weeks after the city advertised for bids the first time, when St. Paul Water Utility decided to yank $1 million of water main from the project, leading to a “substantial change order amendment to the bids,” according to the consultant.

The council recently approved spending nearly $30,000 to retain a lobbyist to help the city obtain more state funding. 

According to Meisinger, the city’s in contact with state Sen. Jim Metzen and Rep. Rick Hansen, as well as U.S. Rep. John Kline, in hopes of receiving more money and a time extension of an $8 million federal grant boosting the project.

Kaitlyn Roby can be reached at 651-748-7815 and kroby@lillienews.com. Follow her at twitter.com/KRobyNews.


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