SSP awards bid for levy repair

When it comes to finding a contractor to repair the South St. Paul levee, it seems the second time’s the charm.

Five months after initially putting the project out to bid, the South St. Paul City Council awarded the first phase of the repair project in its Oct. 7 meeting. The winning bid for the first phase, which includes repairs to the levee and drainage pipes, was submitted by Meyers Contracting in the amount of $2.2 million.

The project was previously put out to bid last spring, but the council rejected the sole bid of $3.5 million in its May 20 meeting on the recommendation of city staff. 

The city’s consultant, Barr Engineering, had originally estimated the project at around $1.5 million.

Members of the city’s engineering department met with contractors following the rejection to determine how they could attract more bids while keeping the price in line with estimates. Contractors largely expressed concern that variables within the project would drive up costs once work had begun — an observation that led the council to pay Barr another $10,000 to arrange more testing on the condition of levee components and flesh out the bid request further. The deadline for project completion was also extended in the revised bid request.

“All those things helped the bid come down in the neighborhood of $600,000,” City Engineer John Sachi told the council at the Oct. 7 meeting.

Not going away

South St. Paul’s levee repair project comes in response to a 2011 report by the Army Corps of Engineers that identified numerous deficiencies in the 48-year-old structure.

While awaiting the results of the revised bid process for the first phase of the overall project, council approved a $1.3 million bid for the second phase — the replacement of a pump house near the city compost site — in its June 17 meeting.The third phase involves a sewage plant in the same area and has not been released for bids yet.

The city is still considering funding options for the project, including grants, tax-increment financing and withdrawals from the storm sewer fund. Sachi told the council the city may do well to consider bonding for at least a portion of the cost in order to spread the expense over a longer period.

Sachi also cautioned while it was important to spend wisely, there was no way around the size or importance of the levee project.

“These repairs aren’t going away,” Sachi said. “We’re going to have to do them sooner or later.”

Luke Reiter can be reached at lreiter@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7815.

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