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Bogged down

Posted 6/12/13 (Wed)

By Zach Stenberg
Farmer Intern

Rain, rain, go away, come again another day. That is what many of the contractors are saying as heavy rains so far this spring have literally bogged down construction activity. Since the first part of May, the Watford City area has received nearly nine inches of rain. And that record amount couldn’t have possibly come at a worse time for contractors.
Wolf Run Village, a housing project being built to provide housing for essential workers for the city, county, and school district, was especially hit hard with all the rain. The workers on site were dealing with the water coming down from the fields and were constantly doing trench work fighting the mud.
“The excavator spent 75 percent of his time last week pushing mud and we were constantly pumping water,” says Jake Walters, project manager for Wolf Run Village.
“We’re two weeks behind and still dealing with the water before we can finish pouring the concrete for the foundations,” says Walters.
According to Walters, they did get to pour one and a half times, but their efforts to lay more concrete has been delayed four times in five days.
With teachers moving into the apartments in August, crews are prepared to start working extended hours to meet the deadline.
With more rains in the forecast, Walters has rig mats coming in from Minot.
Rig mats are 15x15 poly-plastic or wooden crates that displace the mud and water so that equipment can still operate and drive on the site.
Contractors will be working seven days a week, with the potential of crews working around the clock.
The houses that can now be seen in the elementary parking lot are scheduled to be set in two weeks.
Fortunately, most projects were far enough along to do work inside.
With businesses such as Farmers Union Oil Company, OK Tire, Cash Wise grocery, Cash Wise liquors, and ALCO all hoping to be able to open in their new locations in July, the deluge of rain water has turned their construction sites into a quagmire of mud.
“We’re grading now and will try to pour concrete this week and we’ll be pouring as fast as we can,” says Doug Anderson, project manager  for the new Farmers Union Oil Co. store. “We poured concrete in nine below temperatures last winter. We just deal with the weather.”
The new Farmers Union Oil Co. store had all the materials and concrete crews there to pour concrete for their roads and parking lot last week before the rain showers.
At the Farmers Union Oil Co. site, graders have come in and worked on the road. Concrete is set to pour this week.
“We provide access to the OK Tire Store, and last week, we couldn’t provide access, so they had to stop,” says Anderson.
Anderson says the rains have pushed back the schedule about a week, though the store will still be able to open around the first week of July.
Contractors have been working on site at the Farmers Union Oil Co. store site seven days a week since November. During the rain, workers shifted their efforts indoors painting, tiling, and setting counters.
According to Steve Williams, Watford City building inspector, until the rain-damaged roads are brought back to standards, the city will not issue occupancy permits. And that is posing a serious problem for several apartment complexes that are nearing completion.
“Right now the biggest thing on some of these projects is getting the roads back to being passable,” says Williams. “Some of these roads aren’t even passable and the city will not grant occupancy if the roads aren’t usable for emergency vehicles to get into.”
Even with all the rain, many construction sites are still working seven days a week.
“Many projects were far enough along that they had work to do inside,” says Williams. “Even with the rain, things dry out pretty quickly around here. It’ll be a busy summer. People will be catching up and will be building into the fall.”
Some of the buildings had six to eight inches of mud inside, so now the cleanup begins.
While the rains definitely dampened work on these projects, according to Williams, they also brought to a halt several city projects.
“The remodeling of the City Hall project came to a halt with all the rain,” stated Williams. “It was not the time to be tearing off the old roof.”
And according to Justin Smith, Public Works superintendent, the water and sewer extension crews to the east of Watford City are now dealing with all the water.
“The rain has put the project about a week behind,” says Smith. “They’ll pump the water off to the side and then let it all dry out. The project is still scheduled to be finished this summer.”