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Local Company Completes All Major Work On Drawn-Out Havre Drain Ditch Project

Just a few months ago, the field above was a site of large construction machines, concrete piping culverts, and a big hole in the ground:

This photo of the construction site on Eighth Street between Third and Fourth Avenues was taken in early November. (Paul Dragu, Havre Herald)

The Bullhook Storm Drain Project, which was started in 2016, but delayed due to contractual problems, is now fully operational.

The machines are gone and the hole is covered up.

“Bullhook is substantially complete at this time,” Dave Peterson, Havre’s public works director, told The Havre Herald in an email on Wednesday.

A Mesa, Arizona-based company started the job, but local construction company Lakeside Excavation, Inc. finished it.

So what’s left to do?

Come spring, construction crews will pave the roadways near the construction site, grout the pipe, fix other “small issues,” and repair sections that may have break during the construction, Peterson said.

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The drainage system flows from south of Havre, north through the city, mostly beneath the surface where city streets and private homes sit. It eventually drains into the Milk River. City officials had been concerned about the deteriorating condition of Bullhook for years, but were unable to find funding for the needed repairs. The project cost about $1.9 million.

A series of heavy rains in the 2010s put more pressure on the system, including in October 2013 when sections of street and sidewalk over the drainage began collapsing.

So after submitting the lowest bid, Kinkaid Civil Construction Co. of Mesa, Ariz., broke ground on the project. Some of the work was completed that same year, including fixing a hole so large people could see water flowing below, which forced closure of a block of Third Street.

But after taking a winter break, the company didn’t return for work in the spring. Kinkaid blamed the city, contending  Havre had failed to pay them in a timely manner, making the project impractical for the company. The city disagreed. Furthermore, the city believed Kinkaid breached the contract by initiating a winter shutdown that was never authorized. The matter went to arbitration, and the arbitrator ruled that Kinkaid, not the city, was the party who didn’t hold up its end of the deal.

When searching for potential contractors, the city is required to take the lowest responsible bid. “If you can show that a bidder is not qualified then you can take them off your list,” Peterson said. But if the contractor feels they were the lowest responsible bidder they could protest and it could end up in litigation, “so you would need to have all of your ducks in a row to take a bidder off the list. “

The bonding company, Guarantee Co. of North America, was to find a construction company to replace Kinkaid and finish the project. But then Guarantee started dickering with the city, contending the city should pay some of the money for the replacement contractor, delaying the project further. So the city decided to go ahead with Lakeside Excavation while negotiations continue with Guarantee.

Peterson said Wednesday that negotiations with the bonding company are still ongoing.

As for Lakeside’s job, Peterson is pleased.

“Lakeside did a great job coming in and getting this project completed.  They worked through the weather and got the project to substantial completion,” Peterson said, adding, ” If the weather would have held out longer we would have gotten to substantial completion earlier and possibly final completion. 

“But we are very happy with the work that was done and the timeline to get it completed. “


Email Paul Dragu at (406) 262-7778
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