FAIRMONT - While the calendar says spring and it still feels like winter, the Martin County highway department is planning for summer.
County commissioners on Tuesday awarded three bids and bought two pieces of equipment related to road work.
Beemer Companies of Fairmont won the Elm Creek channel realignment project Tuesday, bidding $152,809, or 26 percent less than the engineer's estimate. The project is being paid for with a state grant.
Another bid went to Reding's Gravel and Excavating for maintenance gravel production for $153,300, also 26 percent below estimate.
The third bid award went to Flint Hills Resources, a nationwide company, for supplying bituminous material for sealcoating. The bid was $324,391, or 0.74 percent above the estimate.
"I look at whether we need to do this with the price of oil," said Martin County Engineer Kevin Peyman. "But I still feel it extends the life of our roads. We have to protect that investment, even with the price of oil."
Commissioners also approved buying a tar kettle and a pull-behind packer for motor graders. Both will be needed when spring weather finally arrives.
The packer is pulled behind the grader on gravel roads to help pack down the dirt after the road has been smoothed. The board approved the purchase of a used 2007 packer for $13,043. The highway department had budgeted $21,000 for the purchase.
Meanwhile, the tar kettle is used year-round to fill cracks on blacktop.
"Our old one hasn't been operable for the past two years," Peyman said. "The parts are too expensive, and most tar kettles are designed to be best used for one type of material. We've rented the past two years just to see what we would want."
A state contract bid was sent out for the kettle, and commissioners approved a bid of $47,461.
Peyman said contracts for summer projects likely will be up for bid in the next four to six weeks. The two main projects on tap are putting blacktop on County Road 36 between County Roads 39 and 27, and resurfacing a stretch of County Road 36 between Highway 15 and County Road 39.