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City will wait for decision on Riley Bros.

Poor sewers and crumbling roads are just two of the reasons the City of Morris will rebuild East 2nd Street beginning next spring. The construction work will stretch from Atlantic Avenue to beyond the Regional Fitness Center.

By Tom Larson

Sun Tribune

The Morris City Council delayed awarding a bid on its planned East 2nd Street project to allow a legal situation with its low bidder to be hashed out.

The council on Tuesday tabled for two weeks any action on awarding a bid on the infrastructure repair project after hearing some potentially good news about the company's legal predicament from Chris Riley, of Riley Bros. Construction.

Riley Bros. currently is prohibited from entering into contracts to work on federal, local or state projects in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

However, Riley Bros. appears poised to receive good news regarding its debarment and suspension.

Riley reviewed email he received from the company's attorney stating that he was confident the Environmental Protection Agency would, within days, lift its debarment order on Riley Bros. South Dakota and North Dakota officials have informed the company they would also lift their debarment orders once the EPA had done so, Riley said.

The company now is waiting on word from Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Department of Administration about the company's status in Minnesota.

"I think if you would table this for two weeks, by then we'll have the answers we need and you need," Riley said.

He thanked the council for its patience.

"I understand the city's need to move ahead on the project, and I feel bad about even asking for an additional two weeks," Riley said. "We really want to work and we really need to work. We want to get back into the community and do what we need to do."

The council debated its options, which also included awarding the contract to the second-lowest bidder, Breitbach Construction.

Of the 11 bids submitted, Riley Bros.'s low bid is $1,356,727. The second lowest bid is from Breitbach Construction, of Elrosa, at $1,370,676. The project engineer's estimated project cost is about $1,907,000.

The city's engineer, Jeff Kuhn, said the city has 60 days to review the bids before it must award or reject them. He also talked to Breitbach representatives about its June 1 start date if awarded the contract.

Riley told the council that Riley Bros., if its legal entanglements are cleared and its awarded the bid, could start the week after the council's May 11 meeting.

"I'm not concerned about getting the project done on time," Riley said. "I'm just concerned about getting to do the project."

City Manager Blaine Hill said the city also is waiting to work out details of the project that will be paid for by the University of Minnesota, Morris. UMM's share of the work will be about $250,000, but the university isn't assessed for its share. Hill said he doesn't expect problems reaching agreement with UMM but that it might take time. As such, the delay to wait on a Riley Bros.'s decision isn't a major obstacle.

"It gives us more time to figure out where we're at," Hill said.