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Highway 34 bid goes to experienced contractor, $1 million less than estimate

As it did on the Highway 71 construction project last year, Central Specialties, Inc., uses a rotomill to remove the top asphalt surface, grinds the remaining pavement in place and repaves it on the spot. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Central Specialties, Inc., of Alexandria, has been awarded the Highway 34 renovation work between Park Rapids and Akeley.

That may be good news to both the public and DOT engineers, especially since the contractor bid the estimated $7.8 million project for $6.788 million.

The company raced through the South Highway 71 project last year, minimizing the length of detours engineers had anticipated would be necessary to complete the project. It was completed weeks ahead of schedule.

But CSI president Al Minnerath said the Highway 34 contract doesn't provide the same incentive and disincentive days the Highway 71 project did to ensure an early completion.

Work is expected to begin May 23 on the Highway 34 project, but Minnerath said could be postponed until June.

Contractors may not work over the Memorial Day holiday, according to terms of the contract.

"It depends on when the contracts get here that will determine when we start but the western stretch from where we left off to the corner of State 226, the Dorset Corner, has to be done by July 1," Minnerath said.

DOT officials also took note of all the small town festivals along that stretch of highway, promising they would not plan work for a certain area if engineers are aware a festival is scheduled.

"We'll meet MnDOT's requirements" for keeping access to those festivals open, Minnerath said.

The $8 million project is supposed to be completed by September.

A pre-construction meeting will be set soon, he said.

The project entails a complete resurfacing from Park Rapids to Akeley, installation of turn lanes and replacement of culverts.

"Basically like 71, we'll grind it up in place and start paving," Minnerath said. "Mill the top section and grind the rest in place and start paving."

The eastern section of the project, necessitating a detour, will be done later in the summer.

"I was glad to hear they were awarded the bid," said DOT project manager Darren Laesch. "They're a good contractor."

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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