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County OKs road repairs

The Stutsman County Commission approved spending about $1 million on roads in need of repair due to water Monday. The problem, however, is the commission has about $3 million worth of roads to fix but bidders hesitated to repair them.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation will reimburse 100 percent of the work as long as it's completed by Sept. 18 -- a tight deadline which may have prevented contractors from bidding on the 11 different job locations. Most of the locations at issue are along County Road 67 near Cleveland and Gackle. Failing to complete the repairs by Sept. 18 results in the county paying a 20 percent share of the project cost, possibly as much as $600,000.

And while the North Dakota Department of Transportation will reimburse the funds, that may take a while, said Noel Johnson, county chief operating officer, at a previous meeting. Johnson said the county has money available, but warned the commission of a possible liquidity issue. Financing the roads may mean the county doesn't have enough cash in the bank for other projects or emergencies until the repairs are reimbursed.

The county is still waiting to receive reimbursement money from damage related to the flood of 2009, Johnson had said at a previous meeting.

At a Monday morning meeting, the County Commission reviewed bids. It received bids from RTS Shearing for some of the 11 project locations. Guthmiller Earthmoving also submitted a bid for some of the projects, but it didn't include all the required information so the county could not accept it.

Although it offered bids on some of the projects, RTS Shearing said it was only willing to complete about $1 million worth of work because it didn't think it could finish it all by the Sept. 18 deadline, said Jerry Szarkowski, general manager.

Steve Thompson, project engineer for Interstate Engineering, recommended the county award bids for about $1 million worth of work to RTS Shearing and rebid the remaining sites. Using options suggested by Steve Thompson, project manager for Interstate Engineering, Commissioner Dave Schwartz suggested the county fix the greatest number of sites within the $1 million price tag.

"It is up to Stutsman County to choose which projects RTS will be doing if you award," Thompson said.

Schwartz also suggested the county consider making change orders to some of the jobs it awarded to RTS Shearing, thereby reducing the time and expense of the work. RTS could possibly take on more projects that way.

Johnson said he appreciated what Schwartz was trying to do, but changing parts of a contract like that may not be legal.

"We aren't going to take any chances on not getting paid back for this work," Johnson said.

The county will award any new bids for the remaining projects at its regular meeting on Aug. 22.

Sun reporter Katie Ryan-Anderson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at kryan-anderson@ jamestownsun.com

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