Jamestown, Stutsman County have long list of infrastructure needs

If the federal government passes an infrastructure package this year, local governments will have a variety of projects that could be completed.

Water main
Jamestown's aging infrastructure occasionally fails as shown in this Dec. 20, 2019 photo taken of repairs to a water main on First Avenue. Keith Norman / The Sun

Local officials say they have no shortage of possible projects if funding becomes available through the federal infrastructure plan that is currently under discussion.

The Biden administration announced Wednesday a $2 trillion infrastructure plan that is the first phase of what has been called the "build back better" plan. The plans announced Wednesday included about $620 billion for transportation infrastructure. Potential funding for the plan includes a tax hike on corporate income.

"We can look anywhere across our city and we have aging infrastructure," said Travis Dillman, city engineer for Interstate Engineering. "We've been working on updating (infrastructure) but it takes time."

The city has street, water, sanitary sewer and stormwater infrastructure that all have various needs for updating, Dillman said.

"We still are trying to finalize the list of needs," he said. "The final decision rests with the City Council."


Even discussion of a priority list will likely wait until there are estimates of how much the city of Jamestown might receive, Dillman said.

Stutsman County has a more limited list of infrastructure, according to Mickey Nenow, county road superintendent.

"We have plenty of things to do," he said, "but for the county, it is all just roads and bridges."

The county bases its road work priorities on the condition of the road and the amount of traffic it carries.

"Right now, we have priorities all over the place," Nenow said.

The Stutsman County Commission has the final word on all infrastructure projects.

The federal plan includes updates to communications infrastructure, the power grid and the removal of lead pipe from any remaining water systems, among other projects.

"I'm not aware of any lead pipe in the city water system," Dillman said. "But we do have lead pipe in some older homes between the water system and the building."


Dillman said the city could look for grants or other ways to reduce the costs to the building owner in those circumstances.

Determining what infrastructure projects get done is always a simple formula, he said.

"We want to get the most bang for the buck," Dillman said.

Using a federal source of funding for a necessary project would reduce the burden on local taxpayers if the same work has to be done as a locally funded project, he said.

No one knows how much or even if local governments will receive from the infrastructure package. Dillman said it was likely the funding wouldn't be enough to build a really large project such as an additional overpass or underpass at the railroad tracks.

"We do know it will be to repair or replace existing infrastructure rather than to build new infrastructure," he said.

And any work is likely more than a year in the future.

"Regardless of when the funding was approved, we are looking at the 2022 construction season at the earliest," Dillman said.

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