By Brian Johnson
Dolan Media Newswires
Carl Bolander & Sons is the apparent low bidder for a pile test project that will help set the stage for construction of the estimated $626.4 million St. Croix River Crossing project.
Minnesota Department of Transportation officials opened bids Friday for the test project, which will give bridge designers important clues about soil conditions under the river.
The test project attracted four bids, including the St. Paul, Minn.-based Bolander & Sons’ low number of $3.484 million. MnDOT estimated that the work would cost between $2 million and $5 million. Other bidders were Lunda Construction, Black River Falls, Wis., ($3.6465 million), Chicago-based Walsh Construction Co. LLC ($3.8 million) and Edward Kraemer & Sons Inc., Plain, Wis., ($4.152 million).
Kevin Gutknecht, MnDOT’s communications director, said the testing work would begin around May 21 and last about three months.
Bridge construction is expected to start in 2014.
The testing will give bridge designers “critical information” about soil conditions under the river, allowing for “more refined foundation designs,” according to MnDOT.
Testing involves construction of sample bridge footings: one on the Minnesota side of the river and one on the Wisconsin side. Loads are applied to the footings and data gathered through sensors.
The data will provide key information about the holding capacity of the foundation, according to MnDOT.
Load testing adds cost to the project, but the data helps contractors prepare better bids, which often results in better prices for the owner, said Ty Fisher, vice president of estimating for Maryland-based McLean Contracting, which performed a similar load test for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project in Washington, D.C.
The St. Croix River Crossing project includes construction of road approaches in Minnesota and Wisconsin, restoration of the Stillwater Lift Bridge, and protection of “historic, cultural and environmental features,” as well as the new bridge, according to MnDOT.