Transit system to be run locally

FAIRMONT – The Martin County transit system will remain under local operation.

Martin County recently solicited proposals for operation of the system, along with commuter service between Blue Earth and Jackson.

The most recent contract with Fairlakes Transportation of Fairmont expired at the end of 2012. The Federal Transit Authority and Minnesota Department of Transportation required advertising for new contracts.

Two bids were received; one from Fairlakes Transportation and one from MV Transportation of Dallas, Texas. The bids were for three years of service beginning in June and running through December 2015, with the option of adding the years 2016 and 2017.

The bid for 2013-2017 from Fairlakes Transportation was $2.2 million, while MV Transportation bid nearly $3.48 million.

“We also had to return part of the [MV Transportation] bid because they were missing the additional two year options, labor charges and the three-year public transit unit price,” said county coordinator Scott Higgins.

MV Transportation sent in the missing portions, but after the bid opening.

County commissioners unanimously approved the bid from Fairlakes Transportation.

“With a $1.2 million difference, it’s pretty significant,” said Commissioner Dan Schmidtke.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation still has to give its final approval.

In other business Tuesday, commissioners approved a bid for work on County Road 38, between County Road 39 and Highway 15, from Knife River Corporation. The bid is for six miles of aggregate base and shouldering, bituminous wear and non-wear, along with the mill and overlay of the road. The nationwide company offered a low bid of $5.27 million, or 5.5 percent more than the engineer’s estimate. Most of the project will be paid for with state funding, with some of it covered by leftover county bonding money.

County Highway Engineer Kevin Peyman expects the company to begin work within a month.

In other action, commissioners hired Mike Miller as the Martin County building maintenance supervisor, promoting him from his previous position as a maintenance technician. Miller will make $19.89 per hour, plus benefits.