Commission considers raising, rerouting options for at-risk county highway
The Jamestown Sun The Stutsman County Commission is looking into options to alleviate flooding on County Highway 67 following a special meeting Tuesday. Mike Zimmerman, county highway superintendent, presented rough cost estimates for raising the...
The Jamestown Sun
The Stutsman County Commission is looking into options to alleviate flooding on County Highway 67 following a special meeting Tuesday.
Mike Zimmerman, county highway superintendent, presented rough cost estimates for raising the grade on the inundated portions of County Highway 67 south of Cleveland and north of Gackle. He also presented a cost estimate to raise the grade north of Gackle but reroute the highway around the basin wetland south of Cleveland to mitigate the possible need for another grade raise in the future.
The estimated cost of just raising the grade on both parts of the highway is $915,935. This entire project would qualify for federal emergency relief funding, so the local cost would be around $183,187.
The alternative would be to raise the grade north of Gackle but reroute the highway south of Cleveland. The cost of that project is estimated at $1,146,555 and would only qualify for federal funds for an amount equal to the cost of the grade raise. The local cost would be around $372,000.
"Our costs double if we have to go around, but if we have to go and raise the grade again, then we'll have to go and do it all over again," said Noel Johnson, Stutsman County chief financial officer.
Johnson said the problem with raising the grade of the road south of Cleveland is that the area is a basin with no outflow. Heavy rains or snow could flood the road again, and fixing it twice isn't cost effective.
Johnson said Stutsman County can just barely afford to reroute the road south of Cleveland.
"We have $350,000 in our emergency fund, but this will just about wipe us out (for 2007). Then we'd have to levy for it (the emergency fund)," he said.
The county has a levy of one mill for the emergency fund and the authorization to raise that to two mills. A mill is a dollar paid to taxes for every $1000 of appraised taxable value. Johnson said commissioners would have to look at whether or not they wanted to raise the levy to replenish the emergency fund should they decide on the more extensive project.
Mark Klose, chairman of the Stutsman County Commission, said commissioners agree they need more specific numbers before they make a decision.
"The less guesswork you have on these decisions, the better off we are," he said.
The commissioners authorized Interstate Engineering Inc. to take a closer look at the numbers for the two projects and prepare a concept report including, for example, any environmental studies that would be required if the highway is rerouted. They hope the report will be ready in time for the regular Aug. 7 commission meeting, so the project can begin as soon as possible.
"We'll try to get this all done by not too late in the fall," Johnson said.
The one unknown factor in construction plans is the bidding on the project. Johnson said if bids come in far above estimates, the commissioners will have to make more difficult decisions, but they will.
"Obviously, we have to do something about those roads," he said.