MOORHEAD — Major improvements to a busy roadway are on hold after the Moorhead City Council rejected the solo bid for the Center Avenue Project.

At its meeting Monday, May 13, the council unanimously voted to reject a $2.9 million bid by Opp Construction of Fargo to add a bicycle lane, on-street parking and streetscaping improvements to Center Avenue. The city’s estimate for the project’s cost is $2.1 million.

City Engineer Bob Zimmerman said the bid was high because of the need to coordinate with several concurrent construction projects downtown, which would add to the complexity and risks involved with the work. Also, the small curb replacements would require hand labor instead of machine work, adding to the cost. Most of the project involves concrete work, and there are few available concrete contractors in the area, he said.

The city planning department will take a few months to reconsider the scope and cost of the project. Zimmerman said he would like to see five to six bids the next time the city asks for project estimates, which will likely be in the fall or winter for the 2020 construction season.

Meanwhile, several small improvements will take place this season, such as removing trees, relocation of signs, pavement repairs and road restriping.

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Derrick LaPoint, president and CEO of Downtown Moorhead Inc., said downtown businesses are hoping to have the construction work completed in one season. It will take some “difficult conversations” with business owners to convince them otherwise, he said.