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County paving projects delayed due to high costs

Upon the recommendation of County Highway Engineer Jed Nordin, the Hubbard County Board agreed to postpone paving projects for County State Aid Highways (CSAH) 2 and 18, the City of Nevis, and 219th Ave in Henrietta and Nevis townships until 2020.

“After careful consideration, we’d like to delay those projects to next year. I’ve contacted the townships and the city to let them know what our intent was,” Nordin said at Tuesday’s board meeting.

This is a deviation from the county’s five-year road construction plan, he noted.

Advertising and accepting bids would “put us late into the season,” Nordin said. “With the few contractors that we do have, they are very, very busy this year. And pricing, for the most part, all year, has been very high.”

The 2019 construction plan was very “aggressive,” Nordin continued. Close to 86,000 tons of mix will be used this year, “which is an absolute huge amount for our program, and at this year’s prices, that’s just under $5 million in paving alone. That’s not total construction costs; that’s just the pavement,” he said.

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Asphalt costs $13 more per ton this year compared to last year, Nordin said, or roughly $1.1 million more in expenses.

The Nevis project would require more than 20,000 tons. “That’s significant. It could equal out to $200,000. That’s too much of a hit to take,” he said.

The board agreed. Nordin said these projects will be let out in early December or January so they may be constructed in early June 2020.

County commissioner David De La Hunt asked if the pricing will change.

Yes, Nordin replied, adding that the entire district is experiencing high prices. He said the size of the project and the availability of aggregate are factors. “Of course, you’ve got oil, fuel prizes for getting the materials there. That all plays into it.”

Even some smaller paving projects are costing $90 per ton, Nordin said, calling that “unacceptable.”

In related business, the board did as follows:

  • Accepted a $231,600 bid from Haataja Contracting of Menahga to repair the roof on the Hubbard County Highway Department’s engineering garage, contingent upon approval by the Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust. Last winter, a steel roof beam split. Nordin said the bid exceeds the estimated cost, but it Haataja was the only bidder and the garage must be repaired before this winter. Nordin reported that, according to the contractor, roofers are in short supply and the rubber membrane roof accounts for half of the cost.

  • Approved the purchase of a loader bucket, at a cost of $7,500, from McCoy Construction and Forestry of Grand Rapids on a state bid.

  • Learned that the July 8 timber auction netted $377,335 in sales, with an average price of $136.45 per cord.

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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