State railroad board rejects some bids on current project

Farm Forum

PIERRE — A third round of bidding will be held to install new track on the old state government-owned line between Chamberlain and Presho, the state Railroad Board decided on May 15.

The board received only one bid for that part of the project. Railworks Track System offered to perform the work for $14.6 million. The private engineer advising the board estimated the cost at $9.2 million.

The difference is “a staggering disparity,” said board member Carl Anderson of Aberdeen.

A man delivered a competing bid about seven to 10 minutes after bid opening began April 22. The packet was given back unopened because it was late.

“I think if we have more interest, we’ll have a better price,” said Bruce Lindholm, who oversees the rail office for the state Department of Transportation.

Lindholm said the installation doesn’t need to occur until summer 2016 while other pieces of the project are put in place.

The board accepted bids for about 36 miles of heavier rail and for performing work on culverts and bridge.

Subsurface Inc., the low bidder on the culverts and bank stabilization piece at just over $1 million, failed to post the 10 percent bid bond required by state law and was disqualified. RP&H was accepted for about $130,000 more.

The board rejected bids on 6 miles of rail for noncompliance. The board selected Omaha Track for the two other sets of rail totaling about 36 miles.

Koppers Railroad Structures was the only bidder for bridge work at just under $4.8 million. That was close to the engineer’s estimate. The board accepted the Koppers bid.

Attorney Karla Engle, DOT’s chief legal counsel, carefully explained to the board the problems found in various bids and the possible decisions the board could make.

In each instance the board took the most cautious of the options presented by Engle.

The decisions marked progress on rehabilitating the latest segment of the old line between Mitchell and Rapid City. Currently there is modern service between Mitchell and Chamberlain.

Wheat Growers already has a fertilizer facility under construction at Kennebec and plans a grain-loading terminal because of the rehab project.

Todd Yeaton manages the grain terminal near Kimball that was opened after the line was rebuilt that far west from Mitchell.

Yeaton is the state board’s chairman. “It looks like we’re well on the way,” he said.

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