The documents are due this week.

The three teams selected to submit bid documents for the Highway 61 bridge in Hastings - Flatiron/Kiewit, Lunda/ Ames and PCL/Edward Kraemer and Sons - will submit their paper work to the Minnesota Department of Transportation by May 17. Within several weeks, the contractor for the new bridge across the Mississippi River will be selected. The bridge design will also be selected.

MnDOT project manager Steve Kordosky said the requests for proposal for the best value bids are in the hands of the three contractors eligible to submit bids for the project.

The contractors are in the process of studying, reviewing, and revising their documents in anticipation of submitting their bid packages for the Highway 61 bridge. MnDOT selected these teams through a selection process last fall.

The actual winning bid is determined not just by cost figures, Kordosky said.

"The best value bid is a combination of the technical scores and the design/build (cable or arch bridge design) costs," Kordosky said. Each contractor is submitting its own design for the bridge. "We will evaluate each team's proposal."

The determination of the "best value" bid will be known by June 4.

When the bid packages are returned to MnDOT, officials will make their evaluation, first on the technical side, arriving at a score for each team's proposal.

After that is determined, MnDOT looks at the price each submitted. A cost cap of $220 million for the new bridge has already been established. Additional monies have been spent for the studies and the work that has already been completed, and the engineering work MnDOT has provided to contractors throughout the process.

The actual contract for the bridge should be signed about July 1.

As part of the project, the former Hastings Auto Parts building on the west side of the bridge approach was demolished. Other clearing of some properties necessary for the project will be begin later this summer.

The bridge construction is a three-year project. That means all road surfacing, railings, and the bridge itself will be ready for use by October 2013. That might mean that some of the landscaping and cleanup will be completed in the spring of the following year.

Current bridge will remain open

MnDOT officials stress that the existing Highway 61 bridge will remain open throughout the duration of the construction. When the first two lanes of the new bridge are completed, they will be put into use, along with the existing bridge. The final two lanes will then be constructed.

"As to traffic impact, that is difficult to say," Kordosky said. But he emphasized MnDOT and each of the potential contractors are aware of keeping traffic delays as minimal as possible. They will be working with city staff and downtown businesses. He noted the planned resurfacing of Vermillion Streets (within the city ) must be completed by the end of July.

Updates on the bridge project will continue to be posted on MnDOT's website.

Vermillion Street work

Some of the preliminary work for the Highway 61 (Vermillion Street) pavement resurfacing within the city should begin later this month.

The signal and concrete work will be done in late May/early June with minimal affect on traffic. During July, the resurfacing will require that Highway 61 traffic be reduced to two lanes (one lane in either direction) during working hours for construction on the opposite two lanes. The pavement work should be completed within 10 working days.

In addition to the resurfacing, the project also includes installing a new traffic signal at Highway 61 and County Road 46/47 and updating pedestrian facilities to meet current Americans with Disability Act guidelines. Additional sidewalks at 24th and 25th streets are part of the project.