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Paynesville Press - March 17, 2010

MnDOT awards bid for Highway 23 bypass

By Michael Jacobson

Project expected to take three construction seasons to complete

Highway 23 Bypass
Who: KGM Contractors of Angora was the low bidder for the Highway 23 project at $32.2 million.
What: MnDOT is building a four-lane bypass (about five miles in length) around Paynesville.
When: Construction will be done over the next three years (2010, 2011, and 2012).
Where: The project starts about two miles west of Paynesville (at the Stearns/Kandiyohi line) and ends about a mile east of Paynesville.

Equipment moved in for Hwy. 23KGM Contractors Inc. of Angora has been awarded the contract to build the Highway 23 bypass around Paynesville by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).

In a second round of bidding, five bids were received by MnDOT in late January, and KGM's low bid was accepted last week. Their bid for the project is $32.20 million.

Mathiowetz Construction Company of Sleepy Eye, which was the apparent low bidder in the first round of bids last fall, was second this time at $32.57 million.

MnDOT District 8 is planning a four-lane bypass of Paynesville. The project area is approximately five miles, from a couple miles west of town (starting at the Stearns/Kandiyohi county line) to a mile east of town.

Coming from the west, the new highway will leave the existing Highway 23 at the county line and veer slightly to the north, running on the other side of the trees near the new airport. It will loop around the end of the new airport (mirroring the golf course hill curve), run down the old airport runway, and cross the Crow River and Highway 55. Finally, it will loop around the north side of the city, following 185th Street, and rejoining Highway 23 a couple miles east of town.

MnDOT District 8 began a study of Highway 23 in the Paynesville area in 2001 and decided on this west bypass route in 2005.

Construction should take three summer seasons (2010, 2011, and 2012). According to the contract, work could begin on April 12, 2010, and must be done by Aug. 31, 2012.

MnDOT will know more about the project schedule when it meets with KGM Contractors on Wednesday, March 24, said project engineer Paul Rasmussen. Unless the weather improves (i.e. the ground dries quickly), it could be slow going at first, added Rasmussen.

Construction in 2010 should center on dirt work and bridge building off the current highway alignment (that is, constructing the new highway lanes). This should mean "very limited impacts to traffic" in 2010, said Rasmussen. There will be additional heavy truck traffic during constructon and could be other delays.

The only detour for the project will occur when the bridges are built on the east end of the project, where existing Highway 23 rejoins the new four-lane highway. The contract allows for a 90-day detour for this work, either late in 2011 or in 2012.

During this work, traffic will be detoured from Paynes-ville to Roscoe using Co. Rd. 33, Co. Rd. 16, and Co. Rd. 10.

The Lake Koronis Recreational Trail - heading west from Paynesville - will also be disturbed by the new highway, and parts of the trail will be gravel in 2010. The First Street bridge will also be built in 2010, and then the trail should go over the new highway on this bridge by 2011.

MnDOT rebid this project after rejecting all nine bids last fall following their first letting (due to an error in the plans). Last fall, Mathiowetz Construction had the apparent low bid ($31.4 million), followed by KGM Contractors ($32.3 million). Despite KGM lowering their bid by $100,000, the accepted bid is still $800,000 higher than the bids last fall.

"Obviously, exactly what we were afraid of happened," said city council member Jeff Bertram of the higher bids. "Not only are Paynesville people going to pay more, but the state of Minnesota will pay more. In my opinion, we would have had the same project (with the first bids)."

The city of Paynesville will be doing utility work in conjunction with the Highway 23 project, estimated around $800,000 but no specific figures were available to the city last week. Presumably, the higher overall bid means higher costs for the city project, too.

"At the end of the day, it's going to cost us more money, and we're not going to have any better project," said Bertram, who thinks the Mathiowetz family, with its local connections (they own several cabins on Lake Koronis), would have made sure the work was done right.

The accepted bid ($32.2 million) was less than MnDOT expected, with construction costs being estimated as high was $42 million.

"We were real pleased with the bids," said Rasmussen.

Contact the author at editor@paynesvillepress.com   •   Return to Highway 23 page

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