ROAD CONSTRUCTION: Judge refuses to rule on Minn.’s I-35E challenge

Protest is dismissed, clearing the way for MnPASS toll-lane project

December 31, 2013

No longer in the shadow of a lawsuit, Minnesota’s $98 million I-35E project can now spread its wings.

On Dec. 30, a judge dismissed a challenge by three contractors on procedural grounds. C.S. McCrossan Construction, Lunda Contracting and Shafer Contracting will not appeal.

Following the award to Ames Construction by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) in the summer of 2013, the trio wanted the Minnesota Court of Appeals to disallow the bid because the agency, in their opinion, violated its own rules in choosing the winning contractor. The bid by Ames was $11 million higher than the cheapest one, but put up stronger marks on technical factors and other criteria determined by MnDOT. C.S. McCrossan, Lunda and Shafer claimed Ames changed multiple parameters without getting approval, which in turn gave it an unfair advantage.

MnDOT did admit to errors in the process, but determined they were not significant enough to give the award to another team.

The I-35E project will add the first MnPASS toll lanes in the St. Paul area and replace six bridges between I-94 and I-694.