Hwy. 10 work will mean delays, reroutes and noise this summer
The Minnesota Department of Transportation is hoping to have the Highway 10 project done in two years instead of the initially planned three years.
It used an incentive plan with construction bidders to ensure a quicker project.
"It's a huge benefit to the public," Jeff Perkins, operations manager for Mn/DOT, said of getting the project done quicker.
On Feb. 24, Mn/DOT let bids, with the low bidder coming back as Hoffman Construction Co. of Black River Falls, Wis.
Monday, the company was accepted as the official contractors of the project.
Hoffman Construction Co.'s low bid was $32.5 million.
"We're very happy," Perkins said. "$32.5 (million) was our estimated cost."
He said although he personally has never worked with Hoffman Construction, Mn/DOT has worked with the company previously.
Hoffman plans to have the project done in 534 days, tentatively beginning April 16.
Mn/DOT came up with a bidding plan with three components. "A" is the bid price, which is the $32.5 million. "B" is the major incentive plan where Mn/DOT charges construction companies $5,000 a day to work on the project over an agreed deadline. "C" is a detour fine if roads are closed longer than Mn/DOT has allowed for each closing.
The new predicted day of finish is Sept. 30, 2008.
Perkins said there are three or four incentive packages in this project, complicating the process a bit.
The idea with fines for not finishing the project in the contractor and Mn/DOT's estimated times is fairly new, but has been used about half a dozen times in the district, Perkins said. Last year, the incentive package was used with the contractors on Highway 10 between Dilworth and Hawley. They finished one and a half months early.
During the project, there will be about a dozen detours.
"Some are significant, like Roosevelt (Avenue) underpass," Perkins said. "It is going to be a long duration detour."
For example, the Roosevelt Avenue underpass is allowed a maximum of 50 days detour, with the construction company being "fined" $5,000 a day until traffic can use the road again. After those 50 days, each day the detour is still in progress, the construction company will be fined $10,000.
Weather delays are already built into the 50 days.
"If they are falling behind, please be aware there's not much we can do. We're doubling fines," Perkins said.
Construction Engineer Shiloh Wahl pointed out that the street will be operational in those 50 days, but that doesn't mean the project will be completed. Meaning the sidewalks, etc. may not be finished in that 50-day time period.
The contractors wouldn't be fined if sidewalks aren't finished, though, because the traffic would no longer be detoured.
With this incentive bidding process, the fines will only affect Mn/DOT, and not the city share of the project, financially.
Many of these time frames are dependant on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad schedule. Mn/DOT has been informed that the railroad will be on its new tracks by July 9.
All dates are estimated because Mn/DOT has to project dates for bidding purposes.
Once the new tracks are open, the construction crews will close Roosevelt Avenue crossing to work on the underpass. If all goes according to schedule, the underpass would be open once school starts after Labor Day.
"If there is a delay with getting the tracks switched, it will definitely affect that," Perkins said of the Roosevelt Avenue crossing being closed once school begins.
The 50-day deadline begins when the railroad completes work on the tracks and turns the grade over to Mn/DOT.
Highway 59 Bridge
Another concern and incentive field is the Highway 59 Bridge. Mn/DOT plans to give the contractors $300,000 to finish the bridge in one year versus two years, finishing the work by Dec. 1 of this year.
"We don't just throw away money," Perkins said. "$250,000 is actually savings."
That savings comes from not having flaggers on both the BNSF and Soo Line railroad tracks for an extra year. It costs $2,500 a day to have flaggers staffed on the two railroads. Shortening the project by 100 days is $250,000 alone. Mn/DOT threw in the remaining $50,000 as an incentive.
"Rather than pay directly to the railroad, why not pay it to get it done in one year rather than two?" he said.
Also along Highway 59, lanes will be closed during the week.
"It's going to be a bottleneck, it's going to be difficult. It already is," Perkins said of the area. "It's not going to be pretty during the week, I'll tell you that right now."
But, contractors are required to have at least a couple lanes of traffic open from Friday noon to 9 a.m. Monday morning.
Some of the traffic signaling changes will come at Washington Avenue and Highway 34, where a four-way stop will be issued. Signaling of any kind at County Road 54 and Highway 10 East isn't warranted at this point, but Perkins said Mn/DOT traffic engineers will be monitoring the areas to see if further changes will need to be made.
Underpass under way
As far as the project is going, construction on the Roosevelt Avenue underpass is one-third done.
Construction crews de-watered that area, pumping out 1.7 million gallons a day, added a waterproof membrane system and installed a pump station for the underpass. It is designed to handle 4.7 inches of precipitation in a 24-hour period.
From there, the water will be pumped to a holding pond on Randolph Road, to a holding pond next to Lakeshirts, and eventually into the Pelican River.
Still to come, Roosevelt Avenue will be lowered 25 feet. There will be a 17.5-foot clearance under Highway 10, and 16.5-foot clearance under the railroad tracks.
Mn/DOT is trying to ensure construction crews comply with local ordinances and benefit the city as well.
Hazardous materials and crushing operations have to be set up outside of the city, and campers cannot be placed on the worksite, hoping the workers will find lodging in Detroit Lakes instead.
Perkins said it will likely be a challenge to comply with the city noise ordinance.
"If and when the requests come, there's obviously trade-offs," he said.
Construction crews may want to work 24 hours a day on the Highway 59 Bridge and Roosevelt Avenue underpass projects. Perkins said while there might be extra noise at night, the project could get done quicker as well.
To get the word out about the project and to keep the public informed, Mn/DOT is requiring the contractor to provide constant updates.
Also, beginning in May, Mn/DOT will be holding monthly meetings at 12:30 p.m. in City Hall on the second Monday of each month, in conjunction with the city's street and park committee meeting. Anyone is welcome to come listen to the updates.
Mn/DOT's Web site for the project is www.dot.state.mn.us/d4/projects/connectdetroitlakes.