For much of the coming summer, the Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park is going to be a hotbed of construction activity as two significant projects will be taking place – a campground construction project inside the park and a road project at the park entrance.
Last week, the low bid of $321,626.80 from Knife River Corporation was accepted by the Wright County Board of Commissioners for a turn lane and paving project on Briarwood Avenue NE from near the park entrance to CSAH 39 (the bid tabulations can be seen here:) http://www.co.wright.mn.us/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/7952?fileID=16962).
Typically, the Wright County Highway Department handles bid openings for road projects, but Briarwood Avenue is a township road and it was decided several years ago as the park land was still in the process of being purchased that eventually there would need to be a mill and overlay project at the site and a need for turn lanes to ease traffic congestion.
Wright County Parks & Recreation Director Marc Mattice will oversee both projects for the county, but said that it was a collaborative effort between his department, the Wright County Highway Department, the City of Monticello and Monticello Township (where the park is located).
“The county highway department did the design and the plan,” Mattice said. “I’ve done the bidding and the contracting. I have an agreement with the City of Monticello with its Public Works Department. Its city engineer will do the staking and inspections.”
This is a unique situation for Mattice and Parks & Rec. While he has overseen numerous construction projects before, this will be his first road project dealing with another jurisdiction.
“We’ve had park road projects within our park boundaries, but this is the first road project I’ve been involved with outside of our park boundaries,” Mattice said. “As we went through the process of purchasing the park land, working with the township and creating a partnership with the city, we understood there was going to be a traffic impact on Briarwood Avenue. We also understood that the township was going to want some improvements on the road because of the increase in traffic volume coming in and out of the park. We tried to figure out how to create a partnership between all of us and I think it has worked out well.”
As part of the bid package, an alternate proposal was included in the event that that bids came in lower than the $350,000 base bid estimate – which it did by more than $28,000. The alternate bid entailed paving from the entrance road of the park to the campground. The surrounding area is paved and approving the alternate would complete all the paving that would be needed.
Fortunately, the low bid received for the alternate was also from Knife River in the amount of $91,100. Thanks to both projects coming in under the budgeted estimates, most of the cost for the alternate has been able to be funded by the remaining money from both bid packages.
“What helped was that the Briarwood Avenue construction bid came in almost $30,000 under budget, which freed up a little money on the county side,” Mattice said. “We had some money under the budgeted amount from the campground bids that we can use on that as well. Between the two bid packages, we covered most of what was needed to include the alternate, which we felt was needed if the price was good.”
As part of running the projects consecutively, Mattice gave a proposed timeline for the campground construction project, which he hopes to have completed by the time the Briarwood Avenue project begins.
“I met last Friday with the building contractor about site work for the campground,” Mattice said. “We’re going to start the building site work in the early part of May and we will start pitting up the buildings in the middle of May. The major portion of the site work at the campground is scheduled for mid-July.”
With a completion date for the campground project expected by early-to-mid August, the hope is to get all the heavy equipment used for the campground project completed on the current Briarwood Avenue surface before beginning the overlay project.
“My goal for the road work is going to be August or September,” Mattice said. “That way, when we’re hauling asphalt, building materials and equipment into the park for the campground development, we’re not impacting the new surface of the township road or the road into the park. We’ll to coordinate both projects as best we can.”
Summers are always busy at Bertram Regional Park and there will be some additional traffic and activity this summer. But, when it is all completed in the fall, the improvements will be a benefit to park goers for years to come.