Lone bid for federal project approved by East Grand Forks City Council

The project will consist of street, sidewalk and ADA upgrades along a portion of Fifth Avenue Northeast.

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East Grand Forks City Hall. Herald file photo.

EAST GRAND FORKS – A federal street project in East Grand Forks will be moving forward this year after City Council members voted 5-2 to award the project to Opp Construction, the lone bidder, during their City Council meeting Tuesday.

The project will consist of street, sidewalk and ADA upgrades along a portion of Fifth Avenue Northeast.

Last week, council members reviewed the bid of $1,698,898.10, which is approximately 24% over the engineer’s estimate. At that time, council members considered whether they should reject the bid and go out for bids later in the year.

At Tuesday’s meeting, council President Mark Olstad made the recommendation of awarding the bid for the entire scope of the project. He cited the 32nd Avenue South rehabilitation project in Grand Forks, which had one bid come in as high as 173% over the engineer's estimate.

Olstad also referenced the available funds that would cover the project. In addition to the $1.6 million construction cost, the plans, inspections, administration and contingencies will bring the total project cost to $1,999,831.99. Of that, $860,000.00 will come from federal “subtarget” funds, $241,142.00 will come from special assessments and $898,689.99 will come from the city’s State Aid, which has a balance of $1,398,230.54.


“I think we need to keep in mind that next year we’re going to be tight and I think that we need to keep moving forward with this,” Olstad said. “We have ample dollars in the State Aid fund. I think that’s what process we need to do and just keep going."

Last week, City Engineer Steve Emery informed the council the factors that led to the higher bid are linked to timing and current cost of materials.

Council member Dale Helms, one of the "no" votes, said he’s in favor of moving the project forward, but raised the question of whether awarding a bid higher than the engineer's estimate will become the norm moving forward.

“I’m with you on that 100%, but the other thing that kind of runs through my mind is that if we go ahead and approve this for them to do that, to me that’s just giving them the OK to do that on every project. Just up the price and they’ll accept it anyway,” Helms said. “That’s the thing that bothers me: Are we setting something here that we don’t want to be doing?”

Emery said he doesn’t foresee that being the case in the future, but instead reiterated the factors he brought up last week.

“Again, I think it’s just right now the environment we’re in with cost of materials,” he said. “(It) seems like right now every year that we move forward, prices just keep getting that much higher.”

Council member Clarence Vetter was the other "no" vote.

The entire project is set to be completed by October.


Also Tuesday, council members heard from business partners Tyler Piper, the owner of Alpha Design Labs, and Justin LaRocque, the owner of the Spud Jr., on the i dea of a pedal pub . Last week Piper and LaRocque presented the concept to the Grand Forks and East Grand Forks City Councils. Ordinances relating to the pedal pub still need to be drafted and approved by both councils.

While the pedal pub is proposed to travel between downtown Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, council member Brian Larson asked Piper and LaRocque if they would be interested in having the pedal pub available in East Grand Forks depending on the speeds each city works on the ordinances and pending approval from Grand Forks. Both said the idea has been considered, but is still up in the air.

In other news Tuesday, council members:

  • Approved a combination on-sale and off-sale liquor license for Bernie’s restaurant, located at 121 DeMers Ave. In addition to Bernie’s liquor license, council members also approved renewing liquor licenses for several other businesses, including Valley Golf, Casa Mexico Restaurant, Up North Pizza Pub, Mike’s Pizza & Pub, Eagles Club 350, Boardwalk Bar & Grill, VFW Post 3817, American Legion Post 157 and Pop’s Liquor.
  • Approved a request from Fire Chief Jeff Boushee to complete a facility assessment of Fire Station #2. The assessment will be completed by Widseth in the amount of $10,500. The funds will come from the city’s Building Maintenance fund.
  • Approved Strata Corporation to install a left turn signal at the intersection of Third Avenue Southeast and First Street Southeast. The total cost of the project is $14,000, which will be funded by the State Aid Maintenance fund.
Meghan Arbegast grew up in Security-Widefield, Colorado. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from North Dakota State University in Fargo, in 2021.

Arbegast wrote for The Spectrum, NDSU's student newspaper, for three years and was Head News Editor for two years. She was an intern with University Relations her last two semesters of college.

Arbegast covers news pertaining to the city of Grand Forks/East Grand Forks including city hall coverage.

Readers can reach Arbegast at 701-780-1267 or

Pronouns: She/Her
Languages: English
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