By Mark Fischenich
Free Press Staff Writer
NORTH MANKATO —
The lowest bid on the first phase of the long-awaited Highway 14 expansion west of North Mankato came in 31 percent higher than expected, leaving state transportation officials uncertain about how to proceed.
The project, set to begin construction in the spring, involves a new interchange at Rockford Road (Nicollet County Road 41) and nearly two miles of expansion from two-lane highway to four-lane expressway. The lowest of three bids opened on Aug. 31 was nearly $24 million — well above the most recent MnDOT estimate of $18 million.
Minnesota Department of Transportation officials must decide by the end of next week if they are going to accept the bid from LHS Constructors, a joint venture of three contractors — Black River Falls, Wis.-based Lunda Construction and Hoffman Construction, and Shafer-based Shafer Contracting.
Most of the funding for the project would be provided by MnDOT — largely special funding from the department’s central office in St. Paul. But Nicollet County and North Mankato officials also are being consulted because they are obligated to cover 25 percent of the cost.
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