MMU gets update on pipeline construction bids

MARSHALL – On Wednesday night, members of the Marshall Municipal Utilities Commission got an update on the bidding process for the planned pipeline connecting Marshall with a third water supply. MMU staff and representatives from DGR Engineering presented some of the lowest bids to build the 27-mile Sandnes pipeline, as part of the commission’s regular meeting. The engineers said they would have a full report and a bid recommendation ready for a special meeting of the commission next week.

The bids for pipeline construction were let earlier in the day on Wednesday. Dan Nebelsick of DGR Engineering said a total of 10 bids were opened, which indicated “very good interest” in the project. Several bids came in lower than an engineer’s estimate for the project cost, Nebelsick said.

Nebelsick shared the four lowest bids for construction of the pipeline, which ranged from about $5.6 million to $6.1 million. The lowest bidder was Winter Bros. Underground of Sioux Falls, S.D., with a total base bid of $5.6 million.

One factor that MMU commissioners would need to consider in approving construction bids is whether to go with the base bid, or an alternate bid, Nebelsick said. He said the changes included in the alternate bid would affect two miles of pipeline within the Marshall city limits. The alternate would add to the total cost of the pipeline but would allow MMU additional flexibility if more wells were added, or if water treatment facilities were changed in the future.

Nebelsick said DGR was working on a final bid tabulation and would report back to commissioners with a recommendation.

MMU commissioner David Grong asked if DGR had had any experience working with the low bidders for the project. Nebelsick said DGR has worked with Winter Bros. in the past. He said in past experience, the company was most successful at projects in rural settings, which would suit the Sandnes pipeline project.

Commissioners also asked about the legal and permitting preparations for the pipeline. MMU General Manager Brad Roos said the utility has township and city permits for the pipeline and is just waiting on right of way permits from the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Commissioners briefly reviewed other bids related to the Sandnes pipeline, which were let earlier this month. MMU has received bids for portions of the pipeline project at the well field and the city water treatment plant, as well as for PVC pipes for the actual line. (In order to be eligible for an exemption from state sales tax on the pipeline materials, MMU needs to purchase the pipes directly, instead of letting a contractor buy them.)

Although action items to award bids in those areas were on the commission’s agenda Wednesday, commissioners said they weren’t comfortable awarding bids yet. Grong and MMU Commission Chairman Bill Ziegenhagen said it would make more sense to wait until the contract for installing the pipeline was awarded next week. In three separate votes, commissioners tabled awarding the bids until Jan. 29.