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Bid approved, construction set for late July: West Lake Drive from Legion Road to County Road 6 moves forward

The low bid of $5,071,240 was approved by the city and the county on Tuesday -- much higher than it would have cost last year, but close to the engineer's estimate made last month.

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Jon Pratt, city engineer for Detroit Lakes, presents an update for the West Lake Drive Phase One street and utility improvement project during a special meeting of the Detroit Lakes City Council on June 21, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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DETROIT LAKES — The West Lake Drive Phase One street and utility project, between Legion Road and County Road 6, received bid approval from the Detroit Lakes City Council during a special meeting on June 21.

The city joined the Becker County Board, which met earlier in the day, in approving the bid for the joint project. The cost sharing between the authorities for Phase One of the West Lake Drive project is 70%, or $3.563 million, covered by Becker County and 30%, or $1.507 million, by the city of Detroit Lakes.

After the meeting, Jon Pratt, city engineer for Detroit Lakes, said the approval of bids for both phases of the West Lake Drive project represented seven years of work by multiple staff members over the years.

"It's certainly going to be, at some level, exciting to get this project moving," said Pratt. "We started working, in earnest, on this project in 2015. That was the year we actually started doing material work ... of getting some grant funding and planning the project out ... so it's taken a long time to get to this point."

Pratt also said the goal for both phases of the West Lake Drive project is to have pavement, curb and gutter done by the end of the construction season this fall, then come back in the spring and touch up any remaining items left undone along the project route.

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"I do not see an end where we'll get the thing 100% complete (this fall)," said Pratt. "There's not a lot of breathing room. Weather, unforeseen obstacles, all those things could place us in a position where we have to get a little inventive on how to make it through the winter, and then finish (the project) up in the spring. But, based on my discussions with the contractors, we feel like we have a very good chance to get curb down, get pavement down."

The project is going to disrupt the city's traffic flow pretty substantially once construction begins, he added, urging residents to be patient, since it should only be one summer of significant disruption with the end result being a new and improved West Lake Drive.

"It's just that there are no alternate routes through there, except the highway," he said. "We still have some humps and bumps to go through, as far as the folks that live along (the project route). There's no doubt that this is going to create some inconvenience. But, I think we've done the best we can in trying to create a staging plan, how we're going to do the work that minimizes those things, but that doesn't diminish them all."

The total project cost also increased from where staff initially estimated in spring of 2021, he said. The preliminary total project cost estimate for West Lake Drive Phase One was $3.275 million last spring, however, by the time city staff completed their design estimates the following year in preparation for bidding, that project cost increased by more than 50%, to $5.028 million, due to higher material costs, supply chain issues and inflation. The team's spring 2022 design estimate was close to the low bid of $5.071 million, which was submitted by C & L Excavating, Inc., of St. Joseph, Minn., and approved by the both City Council and the County Board on Tuesday.

"I wish it would've come in at $3.5 million, but I was not going to be surprised if our low bid was closer to $6 million," said Pratt.

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