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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Orr Council awards Bog Walk replacement contract

Modifications needed to meet budget constraints

David Colburn
Posted 2/24/21

ORR- The Orr City Council stepped out on faith at a special meeting on Monday to select a contractor for the Mickey Elverum Bog Walk replacement project, electing to proceed with a low bid that was …

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Orr Council awards Bog Walk replacement contract

Modifications needed to meet budget constraints

Posted

ORR- The Orr City Council stepped out on faith at a special meeting on Monday to select a contractor for the Mickey Elverum Bog Walk replacement project, electing to proceed with a low bid that was $29,000 more than they have to spend.
Pember Companies, Inc., of Menominee, Wis., was the low bid among the four received, and was awarded a contract for $421,360. Other contractors that submitted bids included Solutions 101, of Hortonville, Wis., $462,125, Northland, of Duluth, $529,100, and Veit, of Duluth, $814,930. A fifth bid was received after the formal Feb. 17 bid opening and was automatically eliminated from consideration.
In an email to Benchmark Engineering President Alan Johnson, engineer for the bog walk project, that was provided to the Timberjay, Pember Project Manager Dave Webb described the expertise and enthusiasm his company would bring to the project.
“We have done quite a few timber trail bridges for the MN DNR throughout the state, from Big Falls to Bemidji, Walker, Rutledge, Moose Lake, Rochester, Faribault, Waterville, Lanesboro, Preston, LeRoy and quite a few others, not to mention different cities and counties,” Webb said. “I have been at Pember Companies for 16 years this year and we do a wide variety of projects – this one fits us very well. I also grew up in Embarrass, so I am very familiar with the area as I still have family in Tower and Embarrass, and I would love to be able to build this for the city of Orr.”
Mayor Joel Astleford expressed confidence in the council’s selection.
“I did some background on them and they certainly seem like a legitimate company,” Astleford said. “They’ve been in business since the 1970s and they’ve done a lot of boardwalk bridges. They have about 80 employees and they’re a family-owned company.”
An item in Pember’s bid that wasn’t discussed at the meeting is also good news for a local Orr company, something Webb confirmed for the Timberjay in a Tuesday email.
“We most definitely will be using Lumber Orr Hardware for the materials on the project as well as any other supplies we may need while working on the project,” Webb said.
And because the materials will be sourced locally, construction of the 10-foot sections making up the walk also will be done in Orr, Webb said, rather than building them elsewhere and trucking them in. Webb said Pember will likely have about six workers staying in Orr for five weeks or more during construction.
As all four bids exceeded the $392,350 the city has for the project, the council could have rejected all of them and rebid it. However, highly volatile lumber prices, a reluctance to delay construction, and no guarantee that subsequent bids would come in any lower were all reasons cited by councilors for going ahead with the bid from Pember.
That left a gap of approximately $29,000 between the city’s budget and Pember’s bid, a gap that will have to be made up either by securing additional funding or modifying the design to bring the price down.
That gap immediately came down to $24,000 when Astleford announced that the city would be receiving $5,000 from a private donor. But with no additional money in the city budget and other funding sources scare, the council’s discussion quickly turned to design modifications.
Eliminating two benches, three kiosks, and a new sign would save $4,950 without affecting the walkway.
Modifying the number and/or size of the floats underneath the planned 55 open-water sections was an option that generated extensive conversation among councilors and Johnson. In Webb’s letter to Johnson he indicated that savings could amount to as much as $15,000. Councilors agreed that the option deserved careful consideration.
“One thing they don’t want to skimp on is the quality of the floats because that’s our number one issue out there,” Astleford said.
Decisions about design changes were outside the scope of the special meeting, but discussions with Pember will proceed ahead of a yet-to-be-scheduled preconstruction meeting where plans will be finalized.
If all proceeds as planned, the new bog walk should be substantially completed by mid-June, with a final completion target of July 1.

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