Akeley projects facing price increases

Akeley City Council members received updates at their Wednesday, April 12 meeting.

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The Akeley Hwy. 34 project is slated to begin in June.
Contributed /MnDot

The cost of Akeley’s State Hwy. 34 project and community parks projects keep going up.

Akeley City Council members received updates on both at their Wednesday, April 12 meeting.

Bid numbers for Hwy. 34 project came in significantly higher than expected, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) informed the city.

That means that the city’s portion of the project costs increased from the earlier projected cost of $192,889 to $221,448.

The bid will be awarded in approximately two weeks. At that time, an amendment with the updated numbers will need to be signed.


City Clerk Kristi Kath asked for a staged payment plan that was approved with 50% of the money to be paid when the new agreement is finalized. Kath said MnDOT would like the other 50% prior to July when work begins. Projected costs are subject to change once work is underway.

Kath said the biggest increase in the revised costs was the lighting system. The primary budget for sidewalks and aesthetics also came in significantly higher.

Kath met with a member of MnDOT and reviewed plans and was able to save money on the total cost by eliminating wrapping the sidewalk around the corners on Graceson Ave. and a few other places.

“When the numbers came through on the original bid, it was significantly higher than our $77,692 aesthetics budget,” Kath said after the meeting. “I worked with MnDOT to lessen the square footage, so the city cost will only be $4,439.”

The council also discussed how the National Night Out event in August will be affected by the Hwy. 34 project. The Akeley Regional Community Center was suggested as an alternative location.

Costs have also increased for the Akeley community parks projects. Committee chair Chuck Andress said they met with Hubbard County Public Works and have decided to do the trailhead access this year and wait on the restroom phase, as $172,000 in additional funds are needed for that portion of the project.

Resident Frank Lamb talked about how the area surrounding Paul’s Patio is a center for the community.

“Our bathrooms are a disgrace,” he said. “Inflation is going to kill us. We’re losing ground. I think the city will have to step in. If you do a 10-year loan, it won’t be that bad. People have given as much as they can. If the city doesn’t jump in, I don’t think it’s going to happen.”


Mayor Brian Hitchcock said, as much as he’d like to help, everything is on hold until the Hwy. 34 project final numbers come in.

Council member Dan Riggs said the engineering costs are prohibitive, adding that the city built bathrooms for the campground several years back for much less.

HItchcock said project costs have gone up $30,000 since January.

“If we want this to happen, I don’t think this committee can do it alone,” Lamb said.

“We really don’t have the support from our county commissioners to get the support Park Rapids does,” Andress said. “It creates an economic disparity within the county.”

Kath said grants for parking lots and trailheads need to be used now.

“This trail connection is for motorized and non-motorized vehicles and it’s important it moves forward,” Kath said.

The city can apply for another grant from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources next year.


Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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