Posted 7/25/12 (Wed)
By Olivia Sundeen
Farmer Staff Writer
For those across the country, western North Dakota is considered the land of the oil. For those that actually live here, western North Dakota is known as God’s country, the land of the beautiful Badlands and bumpy highways.
One of the roads that has been affected by the heavy oil traffic is McKenzie County Road 10. The average daily traffic count was 700 vehicles, of which 55 percent was passenger vehicles with trucks making up 45 percent.
“That number kills us,” stated Mike Greer, McKenzie County engineer. “The existing roadbed was designed for less than 100 vehicles per day total. Going to 700 with 45 percent trucks is pretty drastic, so you can see how quickly it can deteriorate.”
Full rehab is being done on all 12.4 miles of County Road 10. The project is estimated to cost $18.5 million by the time everything is said and done, with each mile costing $1.49 million.
“We are lucky to have impact grants from the state, which is paying 90 percent of the costs,” stated Greer. “The county is paying for the other 10 percent. Overall, according to Greer, this is the largest single construction project, in both scope and cost, which McKenzie County has ever undertaken.”
Things seem to be going well thus far, according to Greer, with the project scheduled for completion on Nov. 17.
“We are pretty happy with how things are playing out,” stated Greer. “We have had a few weather delays that have cost us about a month, but we are still hoping for a November completion.”
As of now, the crew has three miles of dirt work done and two miles of aggregate down. The road will have 12 inches of cement-treated base with six inches of pavement, 28 feet wide.
“We are cutting hills and filling valleys,” stated Greer. “We are retrofitting one bridge to add strength and width. There will also be truck pull-outs on either end for the Sheriff’s department to have a place to weigh trucks.”
Once the project is completed, Greer is estimating the road will have a life expectancy of 20 years before any other major work will be needed.
“It is going to look like a whole new road,” stated Greer. “It will be a year-round unrestricted paved road.”
As the crew keeps plugging along, Greer notes that they are as busy as ever on other county roads.
“There has been an accelerated use of most of the roads due to oil,” stated Greer. “In 2011, we awarded 101 miles of graveling projects worth $11.8 million. Those projects had $3.6 million in state grants.”
Greer expects 2012 to be similar. Besides County Road 10, Route 16 off of Highway 85 is undergoing a 2.9 mile, $3.7 million rehab project, also with 90 percent state money. There is also another 52 miles of graveling projects under contract, at a total cost of $4.9 million in county-only funds.
Other than those two big projects, Greer and his men are just trying to get through the summer.
“Right now, County Road 10 is our main focus,” stated Greer. “After that, we will concentrate on what the fall brings for 2013 projects. We don’t anticipate nearly as much grant funding being available like this year.”