The Metropolitan Council decided Wednesday to solicit a new round of bids for a $150 million bus garage in Minneapolis after one of the original bidders sued, challenging the way the agency handled the process.
The action means the opening of the long-planned garage in the North Loop will be delayed four to six months, according to Met Council spokesman John Schadl. It’s unclear whether the decision to rebid the project will add to the project’s overall cost; that won’t be known until the new bids are awarded in January.
The proposed 350,000- square-foot garage, near Metro Transit’s headquarters and the existing Heywood garage, is now slated to open in fall 2022, with construction beginning next spring.
The original round of bids, ranging from $114 million to $120.8 million, was received last month.
The regional planning body was poised to accept the second-lowest bid of $114 million from Knutson Construction of St. Louis Park. But the council changed its mind when the low bidder, AP Midwest, challenged the process in a lawsuit filed in Ramsey County District Court. The suit claimed that the firm made a “thoughtful and aggressive effort” to include disadvantaged businesses in its bid package, which includes women- and minority-owned subcontractors. It called for the court to stop the council from awarding the bid.
The council initially felt otherwise, and the agency’s Transportation Committee recommended accepting Knutson’s bid, which was $355,000 higher than AP Midwest’s, instead.
But the full council voted unanimously Wednesday to reject all five bids and resolicit new ones.
Once the council indicated it would rebid the project, AP Midwest, a subsidiary of Golden Valley-based Adolfson & Peterson Inc., dropped the suit.
The initial proposal required bidders to award at least 15% of the construction work to women- and minority-owned firms, or show a “good faith” effort to meet that goal. The new bid package will be tweaked with “changes and clarifications” regarding disadvantaged business procedures.
Council officials declined to comment on an active bid process. But Met Council Chief Financial Officer Mary Bogie said, “We are confident the process is sound and will result in the project moving forward.”
Metro Transit says its existing five garages have already exceeded capacity, and the fleet is expected to grow by 185 buses, including bigger electric buses, by 2032.