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Everything is on schedule with new Highway 61 bridge

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Proceeding on schedule. That's the word about the planning and the work being done in anticipation of the new Highway 61 bridge in Hastings.

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Minnesota Department of Transportation project manager Steve Kordosky said the scoping, environmental impact documents, and right-of-way work has been completed, and the request for proposal for the best-value bids are in the hands of the three contractors eligible to submit bids for the project.

The three teams - Flatiron/Kiewit, Lunda/Ames and PCL/Edward Kraemer and Sons - are now in the process of studying, reviewing, and revising their documents in anticipation of submitting their bid packages for the Highway 61 bridge. MnDOT selected these teams through a selection process last fall.

"The teams are weighing the pros and the cons of each bridge design," Kordosky said. "They're showcasing their team strengths."

The actual winning bid is determined not just by cost figures, he said.

"The best-value bid is a combination of the technical scores and the design/build (cable or arch bridge design) costs (each contractor is submitting its own design for the bridge)," Kordosky said. "We will evaluate each team's proposal."

The technical part of the proposals are due back by mid-May, with the determination of the "best value" bids by June 4.

When the bid packages are returned to MnDOT, officials will make their evaluation, first on the technical side, arriving at a score for each team's proposal, Kordosky said.

"After that is determined, than we look at the price each submitted," he said. A cost cap of $220 million for the new bridge has already been established. Additional monies have already been spent for the studies and the work that has already been completed, and the engineering work MnDOT has provided to contractors throughout the process.

Once the "best value" bid is determined and awarded by MnDOT, actual construction of the bridge will not commence immediately, but relatively soon, Kordosky said.

"There are a number of administrative details to be taken care of," he said. "But the contract should be signed by July 1."

What Hastings area residents will be able to see yet this late summer and early fall is some clearing of trees, and clearing of some areas on the approaches.

"Actual bridge construction should start by October," Kordosky said.

The bridge construction is a three-year project. That means all road surfacing, railings, the bridge itself will be ready for use by October 2013. That might mean that some of the landscaping and cleanup will be completed in the spring of the following year.

Current bridge will remain open

MnDOT officials stress that the existing Highway 61 bridge will remain open throughout the duration of the construction. When the first two lanes of the new bridge are completed, they will be put into use, along with the existing bridge. The final two lanes will then be constructed.

"As to traffic impact, that is difficult to say," Kordosky said. But he emphasized MnDOT and each of the potential contractors are aware of keeping traffic delays as minimal as possible. They will be working with city staff and downtown businesses. He noted the planned resurfacing of Vermillion Streets (within the city) must be completed by the end of July.

Updates on the bridge project will continue to be posted on MnDOT's website.

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