A drainage project between West Bend and Mallard drew lots of attention from contractors during a bid letting for the project at the Dec. 4 meeting of the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors. A total of 16 bids to do the work were received during the bid letting session for Drainage District 29.
Drainage Engineer Rick Hopper of Jacobson-Westergard and Associates of Estherville informed the board before opening bids that 22 bidding packets had been requested by contractors prior to the meeting. When the public opening of the bids began, 16 sealed bids had been submitted for the project, and representatives from nearly all of the contractors were on hand in the Supervisors' board room, along with many of the landowners in the district.
The project calls for the installation of new tile alongside an old tile that is undersized for the amount of acres it is draining. In the engineer's estimates, options were presented for a drainage tile with a one-inch drainage coefficient, estimated to cost $1,181,402, as well as an option for a drainage tile with a one-half inch drainage coefficient, estimated at $760,707.
"We've been seeing very aggressive bidding this year on projects," Hopper told the supervisors as he began to open the bids. "Hopefully, with the interest in this project we've seen from the number of bids received, we will have some good bids to consider."
Hopper then began opening bids, which ranged from a high of $1,743,694.13 for the one-inch coefficient option to the low bid of $1,040,081.85. For the one-half inch option, the bids ranged from a high bid of $1,315,635.55 to a low bid of $695,869.55.
"The apparent low bidder for both options would be Holland Contracting of Forest City," Hopper reported after all the bids were opened and tallied. "The question now is which option does the district pursue."
With the bids opened, the supervisors held an informal hearing of the landowners to ask their opinion. The primary question raised by the landowners was for the cost per acre of each of the options.
"Our preliminary classification research showed that the one-inch coefficient would have an average cost of $674 per acre, and the half-inch coefficient would have an average cost of $485 per acre," Hopper told the 15 landowners who were present. "To me, for the benefit in the future, the one-inch coefficient is the way to go."
Noting that the supervisors had approved the project back in February of this year, Board Chair Keith Wirtz asked the landowners their thoughts. There were few comments, and a show of hands indicated the one-inch coefficient option was favored.
"Well, you had 16 bidders and they were bidding tough," Wirtz noted. "I have no objection to seeing this project proceed with the one-inch option."
Supervisor Ed Noonan moved to proceed with the one-inch coefficient project option, and the motion was seconded by Supervisor Jerry Hofstad. On a roll-call vote, all five supervisors voted to approve the motion.
"I realize that these figures look hard now, but with the added benefit to your lands in terms of production and land value, this will look really great in five years from now," Hopper said as the informal hearing came to a close.