County roads: Report: Stutsman County needs $24 million in road workMore than $24 million and 137 miles worth of road repairs are needed in Stutsman County, according to the Stutsman County Road Plan and Repair report presented last week.
By: Brian Willhide, The Jamestown Sun
More than $24 million and 137 miles worth of road repairs are needed in Stutsman County, according to the Stutsman County Road Plan and Repair report presented last week.
The report was submitted by Stutsman County Commissioners Dale Marks and David Schwartz at the April 30 Stutsman County Roads Task Force meeting in Jamestown.
According to the report, about 48 miles of county roads are in need of recycling and/or overlay, which Marks said “does not make for a great highway,” but would preserve the life of a road for 20-plus years. At an estimated $385,000 per mile, that would ring up a total price tag of more than $18 million.
Also indicated in the report are nearly 72 miles of county roads in need of chip seal, which at an estimated $27,000 per mile would cost about $1.5 million total. Marks said chip sealing prolongs the life of a road for about five years.
“The problem we have with the roads is so much greater than the surplus of money that the state has to fund it,” Marks said.
The Stutsman County budget only allocates about $350,000 each year for road repairs, Marks said. Federal matching funds brings the total to $700,000 for the county to make repairs on roads each year.
“There are a lot of roads in bad shape. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the state will be able to help fund them all,” Marks said. “Then again, there are roads in bad shape in counties all over (North Dakota).”
Marks identified three Stutsman County roads in particular that he said “have come to the end of their life,” including eight miles of Jackson Highway north of Wadsworth, a seven-mile stretch north of Gackle and eight miles of road south of the Spiritwood exit.
The key to providing additional funding for road repairs will be working with the North Dakota Legislature to let its members know how dire the situation is, according to Pam Phillips, task force chair.
“We need to educate the Legislature about these concerns,” she said.
The need to repair these roads is so much greater than the resources the county has, according to Reed Schwartzkopf, Jamestown city engineer.
“We deal with the same issue here with city roads,” Schwartzkopf said. “It becomes an issue of having to either increase revenues or decrease service.”
When asked at the meeting if state legislators have ever been present at Stutsman County Roads Task Force meetings, Phillips said repeated attempts have been made to contact state legislators and invite them but they have either declined or not responded.
The task force will not meet again until after the June 12 primary election due to the possible impact of Measure 2. If passed, the initiated state constitutional measure would eliminate property taxes in North Dakota, which accounted for $816 million of revenue for the state in 2011, according to a report filed by the North Dakota Tax Commissioner’s Office.
“We really can’t move forward with any of these discussions (on roads) until we know what’s going to happen with Measure 2,” said Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager.
Marks said the $24 million needed to repair the roads would only bring them to what he called a “fairly adequate” condition.
“As I’ve said before, ‘It would not be a diamond fix, it would be a cultured pearl fix.’” Marks said.
Sun reporter Brian Willhide can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org