By Ivan Raconteur
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN Molasses and bridge replacement projects move slowly in the month of January.
Bergen Township residents have been closely monitoring the progress on the bridge over the Crow River on County Road 84 near Lester Prairie since it was closed due to structural deficiency in December 2007, and there hasn’t been much progress for them to see.
There has been little progress lately, and the contractor, Duininck Bros. of Prinsburg, has elected to stop work on the Bergen Township bridge temporarily to work on another project, according to McLeod County Engineer John Brunkhorst.
“I know this is not the news the locals would like to hear, but again, there is not much we can do contractually at this point,” Brunkhorst said.
This is due, in part, to the rules that govern construction in Minnesota.
According to Brunkhorst, the contractor was allotted 65 working days to complete the project.
The clock started ticking when work began on the project Sept. 17.
“Working days” include only Monday through Friday, and only days when weather permits, per MnDOT specifications, Brunkhorst said.
However, the official construction season in Minnesota runs from April 15 to Nov. 15.
On Nov. 15, the season goes into winter suspension, and working days are not charged against contractors during this period.
The contractor has 26 working days remaining on the Bergen Township project, Brunkhorst said, but the clock won’t start ticking again until April 15, so delays prior to that date do not count.
If the project goes over the allotted number of working days once the new construction season starts, the county could assess liquidated damages, Brunkhorst said, but until that time, there is nothing the county can do to move the project along.
Demolition of the old bridge and construction of a new bridge began last fall, and early indications were that the bridge deck would be poured by Christmas.
Estimated completion of the project has been drifting further into the future, and Brunkhorst declined to speculate on when the bridge might be open to traffic.