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High bids delay Newport transit station construction

The Newport Transit Station building estimated to cost around $600,000 attracted $1 million bids, forcing engineers to step back and reconsider the commuter bus stop designs.

The Washington County Board of Commissioners, acting as the Regional Railroad Authority, last week rejected all bids received in June for the new station construction after the lowest bidder came in at $619,000 higher than estimated costs. The overall project is budgeted at $2.5 million.

Engineers will resume work with the city and architect on the designs of the building to scale back on some of the complicated features, project manager Andy Gitzlaff said.

The county broke down various aspects of the project in hopes of receiving competitive bids; however, the total bids for demolition, construction, electrical and landscaping still came in much higher than anticipated.

One of the more complex parts of the station is the roof structure, which Gitzlaff said will likely be redesigned to attract a more competitive bid.

“The design of the building we feel is something that we couldn’t afford,” he said. “At the time we had the confidence costs of the building would fall within the budget.”

Demolition and beginning stages of construction were set to begin this summer, but will now be delayed since the county plans to award new bids in October.

Commissioner Autumn Lehrke, who represents south Washington County, said it’s wise to reconsider the designs for something the county can afford.

“We had an architect design a $600,000 building and it came back as a million,” she said.

The park-and-ride station is part of a long-term transportation vision the county is implementing to improve traffic flow on Highway 61 and Interstate 494.

Plans to demolish the former Knox Lumber building on the Newport site will now be done later this year, with construction expected to be completed next spring.

The climate-controlled facility will have 200 parking spaces for commuters using express and regular buses to St. Paul, in addition to serving as a future stop along the Red Rock Corridor that runs from St. Paul through south Washington County and on to Hastings.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.