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Bid Accepted For North Bypass Project

By Staff | Sep 13, 2011

With no major road construction projects underway this construction season, the Palo Alto County Secondary Road Department has been working to prepare its next two projects for future construction. With preliminary work completed, bids for the actual excavation and preparation of the North Bypass route, or 480 Avenue south from 280 Street to 370 Street east of Emmetsburg, were opened on Tuesday, with a surprising outcome.

Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz and Assistant to the Engineer Jon Wright met with the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors Tuesday afternoon to reveal the outcome of the bid letting for the 9.134 miles of grading to paving standards, with the removal of 1.34 miles of existing concrete pavement.

“We opened bids in our office earlier this morning,” Fantz told the supervisors, “And we received a total of nine bids for the North Bypass project. I believe all of the bidders with the exception of one were present when the bids were opened.”

The opening of those bids is what provided the surprise for the engineer and the supervisors.

“Our estimate for the total project cost was $2,477,692.35,” Fantz explained. “The apparent low bidder is Rogness Brothers Excavating of Lake Mills, with a bid of $1,705,355.05, which is 68.8 percent below our estimate.”

Giving that a moment to sink in, Fantz continued, “Needless to say, we were more than pleased with that bid.”

“I’d say so,” agreed Supervisor Ron Graettinger, acting as chair pro-tem of the board.

“We were very pleased, because we’d honestly expected the bids to come in right around our estimate, but this was a pleasant surprise.”

Noting that the Rogness firm was one they were unfamiliar with; Fantz explained his office had made calls that morning to check on the firm’s background.

“We learned they do a lot of construction of sanitary sewer lagoons and the like, so they are familiar with dirt work,” Fantz said. “We called Don Etler and he gave them nothing but the highest praise. He said they’ve worked with Rogness several times and that they are a very well managed and very capable operation. “

Supervisor Leo Goeders asked Fantz and Wright what basis they used to compute their original estimate for the project cost.

“We base our estimates on the established Department of Transportation schedules for the various divisions of work,” Fantz said. “Those are figures that any contractor can obtain from the DOT and are pretty much the norm.

“Were any of the other bidders surprised by the bids?” asked Supervisor Ed Noonan.

“The rep from Peterson Contractors asked to see what Rogness bid for the actual dirt work portion, and I told him those would be public record one the contracts were executed,” Fantz answered. “He told me later he’d really sharpened his pencil and maybe left too much on the table.”

Fantz shared a spreadsheet of the bids, allowing the supervisors to see the range of bids; from the $1,7 million bid of Rogness to a high bid of $3,019,791.35 from K&L Landscape Construction of Sergeant Bluff.

Other bids included $2,173,630.69 from Peterson Contractors of Reinbeck; $2,418,513.80 from C.J. Moyna & Sons of Elkader; $2,432,501.61 from J.B. Holland Construction of Decorah and $2,455, 557.16 from Weideman, Inc., of Dows. Also bidding was Beck Excavating of Spirit Lake with a bid of $2,500,729.77;a bid of $2,986,331.83 by Reilly Construction of Ossian; a bid of $3,995,848.84 from Steger Construction of Dyersville and the K&L Landscape bid of $3,019.791.35.

“We certainly expected an aggressive bid for this project and we got it,” Fantz said, “But I would recommend the acceptance of the bid of Rogness Brothers Excavating in the amount of $1,745,355.05.”

Graettinger moved to accept the engineer’s recommendation and with a second from Noonan, the motion was approved on a 3-0 voted, with Supervisors Keith Wirtz and Jerry Hofstad absent and not voting.

The contract calls for a completion date of Sept. 14, 2012 to have the road ready for paving. Some preliminary work may begin yet this construction season, at the contractor’s discretion.