Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Staff Report
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

North Pine Government Center breaking ground in Sandstone on Aug. 21


August 16, 2018

The North Pine Government Center Project (NPGC) is now within the desired budget, and a groundbreaking will be held in Sandstone on August 21. The details, including bids and materials, were discussed at the regular Pine County Board meeting on Tuesday, August 7.

County Commissioner Matt Ludwig, who is on the facilities committee, said it would be “cost neutral” to use pre-cast stone versus brick on the outside of the future building to contrast the rest of the brick exterior. “If we went to brick, we would have to re-engineer the building, and stone goes better with the building plan,” said Ludwig.

“We opened bids, and the total was 3.4 million (for building cost),” said Pine County Engineer Mark LeBrun. “and after we were done, we are now at 3.2 million and feel good about it. “We have the go ahead, and it will be a nice building. We’re excited to move forward with it.”

He added that a generator will be purchased. There was an issue with the water hookup, he added, with the water main at the road being a four-inch pipe which is smaller than they need. “I have talked to the city to update it” though no cost has been estimated yet, according to LeBrun.

The board voted to approve the bids for the electrical work, roofing and masonry.

The public is invited to the groundbreaking at the future site of the North Pine Government Center on Tuesday, August 21, at 1:30 p.m. at 1602 Hwy. 23 (located across from the county highway department in Sandstone).

Willow River bridge project

County Engineer Mark LeBrun said that some progress was made with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) regarding the Willow River bridge project. “The good news is that we made some good contact with the DNR, but the bad news is that we can’t come to an agreement on the permit and will have to reject the bids,” said LeBrun. He said the project is ballooning with a price range that is “way beyond the original scope”.

“They have their rock dam project, and I'm not sure they know what they're doing yet,” added LeBrun. “I have to give credit to Vickie Whitehouse. She found out there was a problem, and five minutes later they got a hold of me.”

He said the DNR is not comfortable with the design that Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) approved which involved replacing the box culverts that are currently in place. “We were going to replace them for $500,000-600,000, and now it’s about $1.5 million (with a bridge project if required by the DNR), so now it's time to go back and relook at it,” said LeBrun. The box culverts designed in the early 50s were designed well, he added, stating he would like to reassess repairing the inplace culverts but is not sure the DNR will give them the permit needed to do the work. “They are worried about the road washing out, but it has been tested. I’m disappointed in that aspect. I wouldn't approve plans that I thought would endanger the public, and our consultant is well respected.”

He added, “The people that personally give us the permit are not the issue; they are doing their job, but it’s more complicated because they are doing a project of their own. We’ll work through it and maybe save some money in the end.”

The board voted to reject the bid (contract number 1803) to replace the culverts.


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