US-61 work in Wyoming starts Monday; FL Contracting snares bid

Alice Pickering
Wyoming Reporter

Wyoming City Council on Tuesday, Aug. 7 awarded a contract to Forest Lake Contracting, Inc., for the US-61 improvement project. The improvements target a stretch of US-61 between Wyoming and Forest Lake.

The company’s bid at $883,520.53 was the lowest of six received. Other bids ranged to a high of $1,070,286.70, according to City Engineer Mark Erichson.

The engineer’s cost estimate for the total project is $1.083 million. The low bid was about 1.8 percent below the engineering estimate.

This is a cooperative effort, with MnDOT contributing $864,000, of which $812,000 will apply to the construction costs and $52,000 to administration, Erichson told the council.

The difference in the project cost which is the city’s responsibility and what MnDOT contributes is anticipated to be between $150,000 and $200,000, according to Erichson. This will cover the difference in construction, engineering and legal costs. The city portion is to be funded by Municipal State Aid dollars (MSA fund). The current balance in this account is about $1.1 million.

Council awarded the bid by a vote of 4-0. Steve Zerwas did not attend the meeting. Signs along US-61 indicate construction will begin Monday, Aug. 20.

The major focus of the project will provide new turn lanes on 250th Street at US-61.

Lift Station Fails

Council also awarded a contract to Total Control Systems in an amount not-to-exceed $50,000 for an upgrade of the electrical control panel at the 264th Street lift station. One of 14 lift stations in the city, it was mid-priority for a control panel upgrade, but an emergency shutdown July 22 moved its replacement to the top of the list.

The pump at the lift station shut down that evening, flooding the basements of the Pratt and Powers homes on Everton Circle. Jason Windingstad, public works director, was the first to respond to the situation after receiving a call from Chisago County.

Windingstad summarized the procedures in place for such emergencies which  were followed by public works staff.

Olson’s Sewer Service pumped about 4,000 gallons of sewage to get levels down so Windingstad could inspect the wet well. He explained that the off float had tangled in one of the others in the wet well. This tripped the pump and turned it off, when it should have continued running.

Preventive maintenance includes semi-annual inspections. Since the lift stations are also checked daily and records of the inspections are maintained, Windingstad said the pump tripped after it was read that day.

The control panel was state-of-the-art in 1975, but now pumps have more indicators and lights to indicate something may be amiss.

Cost of the panel upgrade is about $26,000. Total Control has worked with the city on other upgrades and Windingstad said their work is reliable.

Total Control is the number one on-call service company, Windingstad said.  They have constructed panels for upgrades on four other lift stations in the city.

Windingstad estimated that it will take one month for the company to build the panel. He is seeking quotes for installation. The council approved the contract with Total Control by a vote of 4-0. Funds are to come from the capital improvement fund.

Second Issue

This does not completely solve the problem for the homeowners.

City residents Sherry Pratt and Virginia Powers attended the meeting.

Pratt said the lift station is situated in the woods and hard to see. She made a 911 call.

She was thankful for the short response time and Windingstad’s help during the incident.

Pratt and Powers are dealing with their respective insurance companies about clean-up and damages. The city is cooperating. The damage may exceed what private insurance covers.

Windingstad had about 90 percent of the photos, copies of lift station inspection records, and other required documentation turned over to the attorneys for the League of Minnesota Cities by the following day.

The procedures serve a dual purpose: to minimize damage caused by equipment failures and to document maintenance procedures which are followed by the public works department to protect the city.

Windingstad plans to include information about how to report emergencies in the fall city newsletter. This will also include an emergency phone number in the event the city hall is closed, what to do if a warning light is on, and other information which would help residents.

During open forum, Dan Babbitt said that even if the city is not at fault in the incident, the city should help the two families with the costs if they go beyond the limit of what their insurance covers.

City Attorney Mark Vierling said the city should let the LMC complete its investigation before taking any other action.

Engineer Mark Erichson presented examples of a software program available to the city to be used in conjunction with public concerns and complaints.

It is more effective than trying to reach personnel by phone. It streamlines reporting and tracking maintenance. It is tied to the GIS system. Erichson’s firm, WSB, is making the software available at no cost to the city.

Rush Line

Council member Linda Yeager reported that the Rush Line Corridor is recommending integration of Bus Routes 285 (St. Paul from Forest Lake) and 275 (St. Paul through Centerville). Up to $38,000 in additional funding will continue 285 through December 7.

Rush Line will contribute some federal funds to support the integrated route, but wants it to continue service to Forest Lake and Columbus park-and-rides. Surveys show that most riders from Forest Lake and Columbus would not continue riding if it required a drive to Lino Lakes to catch the bus, but would support the integrated route.

Other Business

In other business, the council:

•Approved payment of bills, payroll and journal entries through Aug. 7.  * Approved the minutes of the July 17, 2012 meeting. The vote was 4-0.

•Approved minutes of the work session before the council meeting on July 17.

•Accepted the Comfort Lake Forest Lake Watershed District liaison report from Mark Lobermeier.