ORR- A late addition to Monday’s Orr City Council agenda brought welcome news – the plans for replacing the badly deteriorating Mickey Elverum Bog Walk are complete and the nearly …
ORR- A late addition to Monday’s Orr City Council agenda brought welcome news – the plans for replacing the badly deteriorating Mickey Elverum Bog Walk are complete and the nearly $400,000 project will be put out for bids for a contractor within the next week.
Alan Johnson, president of Benchmark Engineering, came to the meeting with schematic drawings and a bid packet for the council to review and provide feedback, the results of the city’s $10,000 initial investment in the project. A $196,000 grant from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board and a $186,000 Outdoor Recreation grant from the Department of Natural Resources will cover the costs of construction.
After drilling core samples in the bog last fall without reaching a solid bottom, Benchmark determined the new walk will be constructed in similar fashion to the one it’s replacing by using sleeper timbers on the ground to serve as the base for 10-foot sections of the wooden walk.
The new walk will follow the current footprint, starting with a five-foot wide section leading to the main loop trail, which will be four feet wide and incorporate seven passing zones to meet accessibility standards, Johnson said. The dock section of the walk along the river “will be more like a commercial dock section,” Johnson said, four feet wide with railings and two passing areas.
Mayor Joel Astleford proposed the only change after Johnson said the dock would be supported by foam floats.
“Foam will get eaten up in a year,” Astleford said, suggesting that plastic floats would be far more durable. Johnson agreed to the proposal and said he would modify the documents accordingly.
A concern expressed by both Johnson and council members focused on huge price increases in pressure-treated lumber due to shortages related to COVID-19. Prices rose by 50 percent in the first few months of the pandemic and contractors bought up as much as they could to hedge against projected future losses, and that created a shortage that drove prices even higher. Prices leveled off going into the winter months and have recently declined.
“Do you see us staying on budget?” Astleford asked Johnson.
Johnson said that the price increases create the possibility that some or all bids received will be higher than the amount the city has to spend. Unacceptable bids can be rejected or tabled, Johnson said, and if need be they could look at modifying the design.
Rather than wait for the next council meeting in February to approve putting the project out for bids, members authorized Benchmark to begin the process now, contingent on a final review and approval of the plans by public works supervisor Paul Koch. After bids are advertised in the official newspaper, contractors must have three weeks to submit their proposals, Johnson said.
If a successful bidder is identified, work could start in February, with the project being substantially complete by June and finished in July, allowing people several months to enjoy the new bog walk before next winter sets in.