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Bids for Grand Marais Highway 61 reconstruction higher than expected

Highway 61 going through Grand Marais, June 2019 - Photo by Rhonda Silence
Highway 61 going through Grand Marais, June 2019 - Photo by Rhonda Silence

Bids for the reconstruction of Highway 61 from Cutface Creek, through the City of Grand Marais, to just before County Road 14 in Colvill, have come in much higher than anticipated. The lowest bid received for the two-year reconstruction project was $20 million. MnDOT’s tentative estimate for the project was $14 million.

Plans for reconstruction for Highway 61 as it passes through the City of Grand Marais have been ongoing for several years. It is a complicated process, with many partners involved—the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and the city of Grand Marais.

The city has been working with MnDOT on projects that will be incorporated in the final reconstruction project, namely some sewer, water and storm water infrastructure improvements.

The city also planned to use transportation alternatives program (TAP) funding for amenities along the highway corridor, such as landscaping, dark sky-friendly lighting, signage and benches.

MnDOT put together the entire package and requested bids. Bids were opened on June 7. There were two bidders on the project, one submitted a bid of $20 million; the other $21 million.

MnDOT is in the process of reviewing the bids to ensure no errors were made in the bidding process. Once that is done, Assistant District Engineer  and Grand Marais Highway Project Manager Michael Kalnbach said MnDOT will meet with the other agencies involved to see where cost-savings could be found.

Kalnbach is confident the project will still be completed. The first phase of the work is scheduled for 2020, to be completed in 2021.