Bids came in about $616,000 under the engineer’s estimate on the first bid package on the new Becker County Highway Department building on North Tower Road.

That included a precast base bid of just over $2.309 million for the highway building and alternate bids for outdoor covered storage ($30,300) and a new Becker County Transit bus garage ($302,000), which will be an extension of the Highway Department vehicle storage area.

The Becker County Board approved the low bids for precast concrete, poured concrete, masonry, steel installation and steel supply, totaling about $3.8 million, on Tuesday. The estimate by McGough Construction was about $4.4 million.

More than 20 bids were received on the project, said Oliver Finneman director of preconstruction and senior project manager at McGough Construction of Fargo. The company is serving as the county’s construction manager for the project.

The savings was due both to a good bid environment and some cost-saving changes made prior to letting the bids, Finneman told commissioners on Tuesday, Sept. 21.

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The low bid for precast was submitted by Wells Concrete of Fargo. The low bid for poured concrete came from Mn-Kota Concrete of Frazee. The low bid for masonry came from Mortenson Masonry of Glyndon, the low bid for steel installation was submitted by Ledgestone, Inc. of Detroit Lakes, and the low bid for steel supply came from Wolf Steel of Fargo.

The second bid package next month will involve mechanical, electrical and everything else needed for the project that wasn’t included in the first bid package.

Finneman said he was “very confident” that the second bid package will bring similar interest and competitive bids from contractors.

Commissioner Ben Grimsley said he thought breaking the bidding into two separate packages “will play to our favor.”

“What came out of this (first bid opening) was a very good scenario,” Finneman told commissioners. “If this were not a formal session, high-fives would be appropriate.”

“Don’t get too excited,” said Commissioner Larry Knutson, noting that the engineer’s estimate could have been a bit inflated to make the bids look better.

Still, both he and Grimsley voted with the rest of the board to award the bid package -- the first time they voted yes on a vote since the project was launched.

“I was against the project and I probably would still vote against it in its current form, but the decision was made to move forward, so I’ll support it now,” Knutson said.

About half the new building will be taken up by a 7,800-square-foot garage and storage area on the north side. Offices will take up the southwest quarter of the building, and the shop area will take up the final southeast quarter of the building.

Most of the building will be precast concrete, the office area will be built with engineered steel panels with built-in insulation.

A non-automated wash bay will be next to the shop area, and a roof overhang outdoor storage area will be next to that. A new Becker County Transit bus garage will be part of the long garage area.

The shop-maintenance area will have a welding shop, and a small engine and wood shop will be shared with the Becker County Natural Resources Management Department.

The 20-foot high shop area will have a platform lift, a two-post lift and a crane system on metal tracks that can access most of the shop area. It can be used for heavy work, like lifting off a truck box or pulling out an engine. It will also be used to store heavy equipment and large tires in a loft area, Olson said.

The estimated $13.1 million building will be made largely of precast concrete rather than steel, because of the high cost of steel. The project is being bid many months in advance because of the time involved in obtaining steel and precast concrete.

The construction schedule calls for procuring precast from September through late May of next year, with construction to start in early May 2022 and be wrapped up by the following May 2023.

When broken out, the $13.1 million cost estimate includes the $11.7 million base project (including structure, substructure, mechanical, interior construction, roofing, site work and lot more) as well as $920,000 for the transit (bus) building, about $360,000 for a fuel pump island and canopy, and $145,348 for the roofed outdoor storage area.