Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Decision near on Woodside contract

Hailey could award high-dollar project to Knife River Corp.


By TONY EVANS
Express Staff Writer

State law will likely require that the city of Hailey contract with Knife River Corp. to redevelop about 2.5 miles of Woodside Boulevard this summer, despite some objections from citizens.

Hailey City Council members said as much Monday night, despite their knowledge of widespread complaints about the company's work on resurfacing state Highway 75 between Hailey and Ketchum last summer.

Knife River is headquartered in Bismarck, N.D., where the company manages numerous highway construction projects in 13 Western states. The company's bid of $4.2 million for the project beat out that of several other companies, including Idaho Sand and Gravel ($4.3 million) and C&A Paving ($4.6 million).

The city is now following standard procedure by evaluating the three lowest bids in cooperation with the Federal Highways Administration before officially awarding the contract, said Hailey Public Works Director Tom Hellen at a council meeting Monday.

Knife River ran behind on two highway projects in Blaine County last year, including the work on Highway 75 between Hailey and Ketchum. Work on that section of the highway did not begin until late summer.

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Once the project was under way, motorists sent numerous complaints to the Idaho Transportation Department, Blaine County officials and the Idaho Mountain Express. The complaints included poor visibility in late-night construction zones, flaggers who didn't seem to know how to give proper hand signals, scraped undercarriages from construction zone bumps, battered vehicle shocks, paving during inclement weather and excessive traffic delays.

Installation of a protective seal-coat on the highway was delayed until summer 2012.

Mayor Fritz Haemmerle said he was aware of the complaints about Knife River's performance but that the city is required by state law to contract with it if it provided the lowest bid for the project.

"We cannot take that [criticism of Knife River] into account," he said.

City Clerk Heather Dawson said a decision on the contract award will be made within 15 days.

In other Hailey news:

( The Marijuana Oversight Committee was eliminated by a unanimous vote of the City Council.

( The council will discuss a permanent levy override of $40 per $100,000 of property valuation and the results of a community survey at its meeting on Monday, March 12.

Tony Evans: tevans@mtexpress.com




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