A second go at finding an affordable contractor for the Newport transit station project was successful.
The Washington County Board of Commissioners, acting as the Regional Rail Authority, awarded a bid Tuesday for demolition of the old Knox Lumber site to make room for a commuter facility.
This was the second time contractors were asked to bid on the project. The county rejected the first round of bids in July because they came in too high.
The project budget is nearly $2.5 million. The lowest bids — a combination of four bids for four separate project components — came in $619,000 over the expected cost.
Plans call for demolishing existing structures on the site, at Interstate 494 and U.S. 61, and building a park-and-ride lot and an enclosed shelter for bus commuters.
County planners made tweaks to the project design before seeking a second round of bids.
A contract for the first phase of the project — demolition and grading — was awarded Tuesday to Rachel Contracting of St. Michael, Minn., which submitted the low bid of $1.3 million.
Work will likely begin in November, said Don Theisen, the county's public works director.
The county still hasn't settled on a contractor for the second phase of the project, building the facility. Those bids are being reviewed by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, but they did come in within the target budget, Theisen said.
The bus station had initially been targeted to open this year, but the stalled bidding process pushed things back.
The high bids received in July resulted primarily from a difference in expected costs to build a canopy over the building, county senior planner Andy Gitzlaff said at the time. He said the projected budget for the building is about $600,000, but bids were coming in closer to $1 million.
Other over-budget bids came in the areas of electrical work and landscaping, Gitzlaff said.
The Newport transit station is one of four proposed along the Red Rock Corridor, a 30-mile transitway between Hastings and St. Paul.
The county purchased the site in 2010, and plans to build the transit station on 5 acres of the land and sell the remaining 6 acres for development.
In the long term, the site is envisioned as a transit-centered mixed-use development that will include high-density housing, retail space and business offices. It is adjacent to railroad tracks, allowing for a possible future as a Red Rock Corridor train stop. Bus rapid transit also is being considered for the corridor.
In the near term, Metro Transit express buses will stop at the new station; they already run by the site.
Elizabeth Mohr can be reached at 651-228-5162. Follow her at twitter.com/LizMohr.
Copyright 2013 - Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.