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BRAINERD CITY COUNCIL It’s back to the drawing board for College Drive

The one bid received for the College Drive reconstruction project was more than estimated and rejected Monday by the Brainerd City Council. 

In rejecting the bid, the council also by a 4-2 vote authorized rebidding the project, with council members Bob Olson and Mary Koep against. Council member Kevin Goedker was absent.

City Engineer Jeff Hulsether informed the council that the bid received by Anderson Brothers Construction was for $7,333,169. The engineer’s estimate on the project was $6,661,277. 

Hulsether said the problem with Anderson Brothers bid was that many unit prices were too high. A cause, he said, was that the state shutdown resulted in several contractors and subcontractors being six to eight weeks behind schedule. 

Hulsether noted the council on Monday received a letter from Anderson Brothers offering to work out issues with the bid, but Hulsether said the state warned about negotiating without a contract awarded and against the appearance of impropriety. 

Olson objected to rebidding the project for a couple of reasons. First was that Hulsether and the city’s consulting engineering firm, WSB and Associates Inc., would be modifying specifications for the bid in order to save money. 

Olson also said it was his belief that the city would have to come up with an additional $800,000 to $1 million of overrun with the project. 

“I say, council members, we should ax this dream we got and go back and look at a project we can afford,” Olson said. 

Koep, too, objected to the project cost. She reiterated her desire for a $1 million project offered several months ago, which she said was safer. 

Council member Lucy Nesheim said reconstructing College Drive was important to the future vitality of Central Lakes College, Brainerd High School and the city. 

Nesheim said the council has discussed the issue for two years with every property owner and delaying the project further would boost project costs. The city, she said, needed to take advantage of state aid funds and federal grants available for the project. 

“As far as Mr. Olson’s worries, they may be justified but we still have to have College Drive done, designed properly,” Nesheim said. 

Bevans said he hoped Hulsether and WSB have always been looking at ways to save the city money on the project and to make the project better. However, he echoed Olson’s concerns that modifications were being made to the specifications. 

Hulsether replied by saying for all practical purposes the College Drive project that will be rebid will be a new project, but once completed it will look identical to the originally bid project. 

The changes, Hulsether said, were to such things as a retainage wall design, material substitutions, allowing for more flexibility by the contractor — things people will not be able to see. 

“When you drive down it and it’s done, it will look the same,” added Ron Bray of WSB. 

Council member Bonnie Cumberland said with Anderson Brothers’ bid rejected it would show contractors rebidding on the project what the city wants to see. Council member Dale Parks agreed with Cumberland’s assessment, and also added that he approved of rebidding the project because of the unusual circumstances surrounding the original bid. 

Olson cautioned the council that Anderson Brothers could sue the city. City Attorney Tom Fitzpatrick said he was confident the specifications in the city’s bid included language that the city reserved the right to reject any and all bids, which is standard language. 

The College Drive project will include four lanes from Crow Wing County Road 48 to South Fourth Street; reconstruction of College Drive and Crow Wing County Road 48 intersection; roundabouts at Mississippi River Parkway, Southwest Fourth Street and South Fourth Street; a stop light at Quince and South Fifth streets; repaving Quince Street to South Sixth Street; trails; sidewalks; bridge improvements; pedestrian crosswalks, flashers and deterrents; lighting improvements; and a backage road to accommodate the apartment buildings.

MATT ERICKSON may be reached at or 855-5857. 

Becca Clemens
After graduating high school in 2004, I attended Central Lakes College in Staples, MN for 2 years where I got a diploma in Communication Art and Design. I then transfered up to Bemidji State University in, you guessed it, Bemidji, MN. In the spring of 2009, I graduated from BSU. Then in the fall of 2009 I got a job at Echo Publishing, a sister company to the Brainerd Dispatch.