Monday, April 1, 2013


Aerial view of Detroit Harbor - thought to have been taken
prior to 1964, as lake level approached record low.  
Shallows south of ferry dock were dredged in 1964, and spoils
were dumped along shoreline (currently location of
 island ferry terminal).  Appendage at Kap's Marina extending toward
channel was not yet constructed.
At lower left:  Green Bay Road and access road to Potato Dock.

(Ferry Line archives photo)
Washington Island, Wisconsin -  

A pre-bid conference for the Detroit Harbor dredging project was held in the Rutledge Room of the Community Center Thursday, March 28 at 10:30 a.m.  

The 90-minute conference with discussion was followed with a drive to inspect the probable trucking route, the Town spoils receiving site (adjacent to the waste transfer facility), and the spoils off-loading site at the Potato Dock.  Potential contract bidders were able to see first-hand the island facilities and locations that will be used.  Concerns regarding bid specifications were encouraged to be aired in the presence of the Town's engineering consulting firm, in order to provide clarification.  Each contractor was given a bound specification book prior to the meeting that included bid requirements and questions to be answered in order to submit a qualifying bid.

Sealed bid documents must be received by the Town of Washington no later than 4 p.m. Monday, April 15.  These will be opened at a Special Meeting of the Town Board, 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 16th.

If and when funded, the project start date would be no earlier than August 1, 2013, beginning with site preparations for receiving dredge spoils.  Digging and trucking would not begin before the close of Labor Day weekend, 2013.   Then, depending upon the project options selected and funded, the project could be completed as early as Memorial weekend of 2014, or it could extend beyond the summer of 2014 (with no trucking during peak summer months) concluding in late 2014.  The fact there are numerous project options, each requiring separate bid information, raises many potential questions. Clarification of contractor expectations was an important reason for the in-person conference.

In order to first qualify as a bidder, each contractor had to demonstrate that their company owns or manages the necessary equipment and has the expertise to handle such a project.  Barges, cranes or similar mechanical digging devices, and the successful completion of a project of at least 25,000 cu. yds. within the past three years, were among those qualifying requirements.

The Detroit Harbor project is sizable, both in terms of yardage and cost.  It is estimated 135, 457 cu. yds. will be dredged if the full project depth and dimensions are funded.  (One option includes widening the channel by 20 feet; others call for completion in consecutive funding years, at different project depths.)

The final engineering study recently completed under a State of Wisconsin grant late last fall helped to further define the project scope.  Foth Infrastructure and Environment, LLC was awarded that contract.  Their bidding document addressed the range of basic information a contractor should know before submitting a realistic, informed bid.

Because State funding for this project is still in question, and the dollar amounts of the project aren't yet exactly known (but is believed to fall in the $9 + million range) bidders were asked to submit their bids based on three option packages.  The project could be one, large continuous project - interrupted only by winter - if all of the dollars needed were granted at once.  Or, the project could be split into two phases over different funding years and at different project depths.  Those variables and uncertainties make it difficult to plan such a project, and it also requires faith on the part of an interested bidder to participate when funding and timing is uncertain.  From the State's funding point of view, having an actual contractor bid helps legislators and administrators to identify appropriations for WDOT.

Answers to the pieces of a fairly complex project were needed in order to better define the project.   One example:  in order to analyze bottom material that may be encountered, a number of core samples were taken in late December.  Those core samplings help a contractor determine what sort of equipment will best do the job, how difficult the digging might be, and in turn, how long it might take to complete the project.  Each miscalculation could markedly add to the project expense.

Much of last Thursday's discussion centered around offloading, trucking and dumping of spoils.  All phases - for which the selected contractor assumes responsibility - must work smoothly along with digging, in order to efficiently use equipment and labor.  Trucking will involve many hundreds of round trips by dump trucks to the Town's spoil site on Gunnlaugsson Road, and this activity is viewed by experienced contractors as the "choke point" of such projects.  If trucks can't keep up with the supply of dredged material, then it doesn't matter how fast material can be dug.  The actual trucking route, possible restrictions on hours for trucking, and the inevitable road damage that results from repeated, heavy traffic were among the concerns expressed.

Toward the close of the meeting, Foth moderator Ken Potrykus said it will take coordination of all parties involved in order to accomplish the goals of this project.   

Besides two Foth representatives who moderated the meeting, three marine contractor companies were represented:  Roen Salvage Company of Sturgeon Bay; Luedtke Engineering Company of Frankfort, Michigan; and Gro America of White Lake Dock and Dredge, Montague, Michigan.  Also present were Town Chairman Joel Gunnlaugsson, Town Supervisors Randy Sorenson and Tom Jordan, and audience members Lonnie Jorgenson, Mike Kahr, Hoyt Purinton and Richard Purinton. 

Attendance was mandatory for interested bidders, so that any questions and concerns regarding bids, and the responses, could be fairly addressed in an open forum.

-  Dick Purinton

1 comment:

Bill Tobey said...

Very interesting, Dick, as always.

This statement, "It is estimated 135, 457 cu. yds. will be dredged if the full project depth and dimensions are funded." suggests thousands, not hundreds, of truckloads will travel to the spoils site.

Today's island ferry dock webcam pictures certainly fall into the "What a Difference a Day Makes!" category.