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Contractors team up to bid on LRT work

Janice Bitters//December 7, 2016

Contractors team up to bid on LRT work

Janice Bitters//December 7, 2016

Companies from around the nation and Canada have formed partnerships to win the construction and technical packages for the $1.8 billion Southwest Light Rail Transit project, and some are now looking for prospective subcontractors to help fill out their ranks.

Some have created partnerships called the Southwest Rail Constructors or the Southwest Transit Constructors to illustrate their desire to help build the 14.5-mile line between Minneapolis and Eden Prairie. Construction is expected to begin next year.

Nearly 300 construction industry representatives on Monday attended an informational and networking event hosted by the Metropolitan Council, the planning agency behind the Southwest LRT project. The council hosted a similar event last year, when about 175 people showed up.

Among the local contractors vying for work are Golden Valley-based Mortenson, Maple Grove-based C.S. McCrossan and Burnsville-based Ames.

Luke Fellows, business development director with Maple Grove-based Meyer Contracting, was running one of the dozen booths at the event. He was surprised by the turnout.

“I was expecting half,” he said while looking around the event, where contractors weaved through the tightly packed room at the Minnetonka Community Center.

Fellows said he isn’t sure whether Meyer will try to partner as a subcontractor for the project or aim to be the primary contractor for the civil construction package.

The contractors and businesses swapped business cards and sold themselves as the best people to help take on one of the three major upcoming bid packages that are all scheduled to be released in the first half of next year.

The civil package is set to be released first, likely in mid-January, according to Jody Jacoby, contracts manager for the Met Council. The other two packages, for the Operations and Maintenance Facility and systems, are expected to be released for bids in the first half of the year.

George Harvey, project executive at Watsonville, California-based Granite Construction, said the company is partnering with Mortenson Construction and Cheshire, Connecticut-based Lane Construction Corp. to submit a bid for the civil construction package. The partnership is called the Southwest Transit Constructors.

Normally the three companies “compete against each other every day, but this time we teamed together,” Harvey said. “We have the same values, same safety cultures … and we have strength in that we can bring resources and people.”

Nearby, a team called the Southwest Rail Constructors touted its skills at its own booth. The team includes Chicago-based Walsh Group and Brownsville, Wisconsin-based Michels Corp.

Terry Gill, a project manager with Walsh, said the team is well-positioned to take on the project because of its local and national experience.

“This job is big enough to require some assistance from each other,” he said.

Walsh also worked on the Green Line, the 9.8-mile LRT route between the downtowns of Minneapolis and St. Paul. In early 2014, the group needed to redo some work, replacing some cracking concrete intersection panels on University Avenue before the line opened, Finance & Commerce reported at the time.

Ames Construction is pairing with Wisconsin-based Kraemer North America to put together a bid. Ames also worked on the Green Line but partnered with Maple Grove-based C.S. McCrossan at that time.

This year, McCrossan is partnering with Black River Falls, Wisconsin-based Lunda Construction Co. and Pasadena, California-based Parsons Corp. to compete for the project’s civil construction contract.

But not every company or group was focused on construction. Monday’s event also brought groups hoping to bid on the systems and operations and maintenance facility packages.

A partnership between Brooklyn Park-based Egan and Irving, Texas-based Mass Electric Construction Co. is aiming to be the prime contractor for the systems package, which is expected to be released in April.

Libertyville, Illinois-based Aldridge Electric also wants to lead the systems’ work on the Southwest line.

Calgary, Alberta-based Graham is planning to bid on the Hopkins operations and maintenance facility package, due to be released in June. Kees Cusveller, a vice president at the company, said even though work on the facility won’t start for a while, it’s important to start planning early.

Other companies with booths at the event included Rogers-based Veit, which is aiming to be a subcontractor on the civil package and the Reston, Virginia-based Reinforced Earth Co.

The Southwest LRT project will be the biggest light rail project for the Twin Cities region so far, with 15 new stations, 29 new bridges, two light rail tunnels, six pedestrian tunnels and eight new park-and-ride facilities.

Planners have estimated the Southwest line will create 7,500 jobs for workers compared with around 5,500 jobs on the Green Line, which opened in 2014.

At least 32 percent of the workers should be minorities and 6 percent women as part of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights’ goal for Hennepin County’s large construction projects.

“We’ve successfully managed every challenge that has come our way, and now, with our local funding in place, it’s full speed ahead to full federal funding and breaking ground by summer,” Adam Duininck, chair of the Met Council, said in a statement Tuesday.

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