The latest addition to the Boulder Junction bike trail system can now go out for bid.
Town chairman Charles Spencer made the announcement at the latest regular meeting of the Boulder Junction town board Tuesday night.
The next part of the process, Spencer said, is a 30-day period for the bidding process on the project and another 30 days for whatever bid the board accepts to be approved by the state.
However, construction wouldn’t start until spring.
“As I mentioned last month, I doubt we will be doing any shovel work on the project this year, “ he said.
Spencer said at the meeting he’d have to talk to Jim Bollmann, an engineer with MSA Professional Services, one of the firms that will oversee the project, to get a better idea of bidding time frame.
The trail, which actually will provide connections to current bike trails in the Boulder Junction area, will consist of a total of about 3.5 miles, with a mile west of town on County Highway K and another 2.5 miles north on County Highway M.
Spencer indicated construction of the bike trail would more than likely begin when the seasonal load limits are lifted in the spring to allow for whatever heavy equipment is brought in by contractors to perform the work.
The Transportation Enhancement Grant approved for the project totals $430,000.
Eighty percent of the funding for the grant is covered by the federal government and 20 percent by local government.
Bollmann said the town has also secured Stewardship grants through the Department of Natural Resources to help with funding.
Board member Denny McGann asked about the possibility of area contractors or subcontractors getting some of the work.
“That’s a good question,” Spencer said. “I don’t think we can demand it. We can request it but I don’t think we can demand it.”
“Obviously, we can’t demand it ... but we do have local contractors here that could benefit from that,” McGann said.
Spencer alluded to state labor laws as they pertain to wages that he thinks will have an affect on who will, or can afford to bid on the project.
“A lot of small contractors won’t touch these types of contracts because they don’t have the mechanism within their company to track all these different wages and pay them differently,” he said.
“Sometimes, it’s not worth their while to even go after any of these contracts.”
McGann agreed with Spencer but stayed with his original point.
“I’d rather let them say no as opposed to making that assumption,” he said.
“That’s where [engineering firms] Cedar Corporation and MSA come in with the bidding and the specifications and then we, as a board, choose the winning bid,” Spencer said.
“At least we finally got through the bureaucratic process of being to the point where we can bid it. Hallelujah. It’s been a long time.”
Spencer then made another allusion, this one to the bureaucratic hurdles the town has had to contend with over the last eight years in regard to the grant process for the bike trail.
He used the U.S. portion of construction of the Panama Canal, which started in 1904 and ended in 1914 with the opening of the canal, as an example.
“This bike trail, we’ll be going on our eighth year by the time we get construction started,” he said.
Bollmann also said Wednesday he has talked to two potential bidders for the project and he’s probably going to recommend to the town board that it wait until at least November to advertise for bids.
“The tentative schedule now is to advertise the project in November and December with the bid opening planned for mid-December,” he said.
Questions about things like oil prices for the asphalt portion of bids were mentioned at the town board meeting Tuesday night, and Bollmann confirmed that Wednesday.
“October is going to be a bad time to do that [advertise bids], because oil prices aren’t set,” he said. “The more certain contractors are about oil prices, the better off we’ll be.”
Brian Jopek may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.