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The Wisconsin River Rail Transit Commission awarded Veit and Company Inc. of Rogers, Minnesota, the bid for the stabilization of the Sauk City railroad bridge during a special meeting of the commission on Dec. 22.

Five companies submitted bids for the bridge demolition work on Dec. 14, and Veit and Company had the lowest bid at $884,100. The highest of the five bids came from Yahnke General Contractors at $2.999 million, followed closely by Kraemer North America out of Plain, who bid the project at $2.964 million.

“All were considered responsible bids,” said Ken Lucht of Wisconsin and Southern Railroad. “The lowest responsible bidder was Veit and Company at $884,100 which is about $130,000 under our intended budget.”

Lucht said all the bidders were discussed by Wisconsin and Southern along with Wisconsin Department of Transportation, and both concurred Veit and Company was the lowest responsible bidder for the project.

A letter of award was drafted by Wisconsin and Southern and the Department of Transportation and was subsequently reviewed by Eileen Brownlee, the attorney from Boardman and Clark, LLC., who represents the commission. After the letter is sent to Veit, the company needs to issue a performance bond, insurability, insurance certificate and return the signed contract to the commission. From the date of the bid opening – Dec. 14 – the commission has 30 days to award the bid, Lucht said.

“Veit and Company has informed us that they would like to and are eligible to get going on this work, if awarded, by Jan. 1,” Lucht said. “According to our contract, the project demolition has to be substantially completed by March 31, with a final bill by June 1.”

Lucht said the DNR has been informed of the project and has laid out a number of conditions of which the contractors have to abide by; all contractors were aware of those conditions when making their respective bids.

Brownlee said prior to the bids being awarded she received notification from the commission’s insurance agent saying it was satisfied with the contract’s insurance limitations. However, it suggested workers compensation insurance include longshoremen and harbor workers coverage, due to the fact the project is being done over navigable waterway. Brownlee said based on that recommendation, she is also recommending the contract spell out that workers compensation be extended to those workers.

“Other than that, I think everything has gone about as well as — if not better than anticipated,” Brownlee said.

One commission member questioned why there was such a difference — almost $2 million — between the high and low bidder.

Lucht said it likely depends on the workload of the bidders.

“In my opinion, the higher bidders have other work to do in the wintertime and if their bid was awarded, the work is going to be at a premium,” Lucht said. “Other work would have to be put on hold.”

Lucht assured the commission all work will be certified and checked to ensure it is being done properly.

“Veit and Company does a lot of commercial, concrete work in the state of Wisconsin,” Lucht said. “They are very, very well-known.”

Lucht said although Wisconsin and Southern has never directly contracted with Veit before, the company has been a subcontractor on a previous project.

The contract includes the disposal of all debris from the project as well.

The motion made was to approve and authorize commission chair Alan Sweeney to sign the contract, and was amended by Sweeney to include authorization for a notice to proceed be signed after the signatures from Veit are returned.

Other details of the contract included a motion made by commission member Marty Krueger to authorize David Bierman of Wisconsin and Southern Railroad, who is serving as bridge structure supervisor for the project, to approve a single change order up to $20,000. That motion was approved by the commission.

Sweeney said the commission is choosing to go this route with the change orders because change orders are often abused.

“I think the point of this is that the contractor has a short time to get the work done,” Krueger said. “By the time it takes us to get together to approve something, it might hold work up.”

Lucht told the commission he would be giving the commission updates on the project at every meeting.

The demolition cost was estimated at $1,080,000 by the state, based on projected bid amounts. The Department of Transportation is responsible to cover $360,000 for the work, and the Commission was covering $720,000 — with $160,000 coming from the commission’s 2018 budget. The remaining $200,000 was to be funded through a loan with repayments spanning the next decade. Wisconsin and Southern Rail would reimburse the commission $360,000. However, because the bid amount was lower than the projected budget amount, the commission has to reevaluate its portion of the financial structure.

The breakdown of project cost sharing will be revisited at the commission’s January meeting.

Follow Autumn Luedke on Twitter @Apwriter1 or contact at (608) 393-5777

Reporter, Sauk Prairie Eagle