The St. Louis County Board on Tuesday unanimously approved a “bridge bundling” contract totaling $23.9 million to replace a total of 21 bridges and box culverts. The contract, awarded to Redstone Construction, LLC, of Mora, is the largest road and bridge contract the County has ever put out for bid.
According to a news release put out late Tuesday afternoon, the County is partnering with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) on numerous aspects of this project from design and construction to securing funding. Money for the bridge projects come from a variety of sources including nearly $11.5 million from three federal funding programs, $6.3 million in Local Bridge Replacement Program (LBRP) grant funds, $2.1 million in MnDOT funds, and $3.9 million in County Transportation Sales Tax funds. The County is currently working with MnDOT to secure additional state and federal bridge funds worth $1.4 million, which would reduce the amount of Transportation Sales Tax funds needed to $2.5 million.
St. Louis County Public Works and MnDOT have been working together on this bridge bundling package for more than two years, recognizing that combining all 21 projects into one design contract and one construction contract allowed for a streamlined project delivery process and reduced overall cost due to bundling. The package includes 17 County bridges and four MnDOT bridges. Among the County’s 17 bridges, the average age is 75 years, and seven of them currently have limited weight restrictions.
Construction on the bridges will span three construction seasons: 10 are expected to begin this year, and the remaining 11 in 2023, with all work completed by 2024.
“This a great example of how agencies can partner to better serve our citizens,” said County Board Chair Paul McDonald, who previously served as the Board’s Transportation Committee Chair as this bridge bundling package was assembled. “It’s a huge undertaking that will greatly improve the quality of our bridge system for all drivers, but in particular for heavier commercial vehicles, so this is an economic development project as well as a transportation safety project.”
“We absolutely commend MnDOT, our federal partners and congressional delegation, and our Public Works staff for their work in securing these funds. We could not do this without them,” said Commissioner Keith Musolf, the Board’s current Transportation Committee Chair.
St. Louis County Public Works is responsible for maintaining 3,000 miles of roads and 600 bridges throughout the County. Consistent progress has been made, in particular since implementing a Transportation Sales Tax in 2015, to improve the safety and quality of the County’s vast infrastructure.