Flathead County received a considerable range of bids for the Sam Bibler Commemorative Trail project last week, with a $270,000 difference between the lowest and highest bidders.
There were six open bids turned in on July 8 for the two-part project, which is designed to run along Willow Glen Drive from FFA Drive to Woodland Avenue.
Each bid accounted for costs for the first and second segments of the trail.
The first section runs from FFA Drive north to Woodland Avenue, and the second section navigates roughly 700 linear feet of the hill and would tie into the Kalispell’s Woodland Connector Trail.
The engineer’s report estimated the project should cost $446,000.
Local firm Apex Contracting turned in the lowest bid for both schedules of the project and the closest to the engineer’s prediction, bidding a total of $447,814. Sandry Construction bid the second lowest, with a total cost of $490,239.
LHC Inc. of Kalispell submitted the highest bid with $720,756. Knife River Corporation bid $711,554 and Columbia Falls-based Schellinger Construction Co. bid $629,622. Kalispell’s Paveco Contracting and Utilities bid $539,929.
The county’s engineering consultants from Robert Peccia and Associates will go through each bid thoroughly to ensure certain requirements have been met, according to Flathead County Planner Alex Hogle.
Once the lowest bidder to fulfill all requirements is established, the consultant will make a recommendation to the county commission. The Montana Department of Transportation then needs to issue a statement of concurrence and Flathead County commissioners have to formally award the bid before any work can begin.
Hogle noted that this process usually happens in a matter of days.
The county does have the option to award each piece of the project separately, a decision made in May over concerns of a lack of local matching funds for the project. Hogle said it was unlikely the county would split the project into two, but that decision will be up to the commissioners.
The county will use Community Transportation Enhancement Program (CTEP) funds to pay for the Bibler Trail. Using these federal highway tax dollars requires a match from a local entity.
The Bibler Trail has been in the works for years as an effort to commemorate Kalispell resident and civic benefactor Louis A. “Sam” Bibler. The project’s local leaders said in May they were confident they could raise the remaining $20,000 for the local match.
Donations to the trail can be sent to The Sam Bibler Commemorative Trails Project, P.O. Box 515, Kalispell, 59903.
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