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Rains, strong winds cause damage to Stutsman County roads

The Stutsman County Commission approved allowing Andrew Kirking, emergency manager, to submit data on the damaged roads, culverts and a bridge to the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services.

Road Damage Site 4.jpg
A 4,000-by-30-foot section of a road on Stutsman County Road 67 directly south of Cleveland by Runner Slough was damaged after high water and winds eroded a roadbed.
Contributed / Stutsman County
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JAMESTOWN – Precipitation and wind this spring have damaged roads, culverts and a bridge in Stutsman County, according to Jim Wentland, road superintendent.

Wentland and Stutsman County Emergency Manager Andrew Kirking presented a PowerPoint presentation to the Stutsman County Commission on Tuesday, June 7. The county commission unanimously approved allowing Kirking to submit data on the damaged roads, culverts and a bridge to the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services.

“We are still seeking approval for a presidential disaster declaration and that’s what opens up FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) funds,” Kirking said Thursday, June 9. “So if the state gets it every county has a certain threshold that we need to meet and if we meet our threshold of damages, then we get to play too.”

If Stutsman County receives FEMA funding, he said the projects will be paid by an 85%-15% federal-county split.

Jamestown received a little more than 10 inches of precipitation in April and May combined, according to measurements taken at the North Dakota State Hospital. Normal precipitation for April and May is about a total of 4.6 inches.

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The seven sites that were damaged due to wind and precipitation include:

  • a bridge about 7 miles southwest of Pingree where water swirled around the wing walls to erode the embankment. Wentland said both ends of the bridge will need to be excavated. 
  • a 3,000-by-30-foot section of a road about 7 miles south of Interstate 94 on Stutsman County Road 68 where high water and winds eroded the roadbed. Wentland said a 6-inch grade raise was done to the road last year. 
  • a 4,000-by-30-foot section of a road about 5 1/2 miles south of I-94 on Stutsman County Road where high water and winds eroded the roadbed. Wentland said in some spots five to six semitrailer loads of rock can be dumped in one spot and the rock still won’t show. 
  • a 4,000-by-30-foot section of a road on Stutsman County Road 67 directly south of Cleveland by Runner Slough where high water and high winds eroded a roadbed. In the past, this site has been closed to one-lane traffic several times a year depending on the weather, Wentland said
  • a 2,000-by-30-foot section of a road on Stutsman County Road 37 about 3 miles west of Streeter where high water and high winds eroded a roadbed. Wentland said a grade raise was done two years ago to this site and it gets worked on every year.
  • culverts that were damaged and need to be upgraded about 10 miles southwest of Jamestown in Lenton Township. Wentland said a potential solution is to install two 6-foot culverts just north of the culverts. FEMA will require a hydraulic study that can be reimbursed.
  • a 3,500-by-30-foot section of a road on Stutsman County Road 67 about 2 1/2 miles north of Cleveland where the road was washed out by water.  
Road damage Site 2 .jpg
This 3,000-by-30-foot section of Stutsman County Road 68 was damaged after high water and winds eroded the roadbed.
Contributed / Stutsman County

Kirking said a lot of the work to these sites has already been done. He said the sites have temporary repairs done.

“Talking with Jim (Wentland) at the road department, he’s got some contractors ready to bid for some of the larger stuff,” he said. “So to get it back, not just a Band-Aid fix, but back to 100% the way it was.”

He said damage to the seven sites could be repaired by the end of this summer if crews are able to “get after it.”

Road Damage Site 6.jpg
This culvert located about 10 miles southwest of Jamestown in Lenton Township was damaged and needs to be upgraded.
Contributed / Stutsman County

Kirking said if Stutsman County is included in the disaster declaration, then the county will do a much more thorough examination of the damage to the roads, culverts and a bridge.

“Also every township has a chance potentially to get some damages in there as well,” he said. “For townships, these are real conversations of can we afford to fix this road or does it need to be abandoned. So for the county if we don’t get in, it’s going to be a hard pill to swallow, but this can be life or death for a lot of these township roads.”

If the roads are repaired before funding is approved, Kirking said the risk is the county is not guaranteed funding.

“Let’s say a gravel road washes out, and you go and improve it with pavement, make it look like interstate, you improve that road, so that’s an option for denial of funds,” he said. “The good news with like the road department here, some of the repairs they did, they are just putting it back to normal, so if we do get approved, a lot of those costs are going to be a slam dunk.”

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He said small projects will get funding quickly.

“Now these large projects end up being the bearcats where they need to be bid out, the work has to be done, progress reports have to be made, and it just ends up getting slowed down because I need to count on the state to verify this and FEMA to verify it,” he said.

For example, he said Stutsman County Road 39 west of Medina turned into a large project because the grade of the road was raised to make it passable. The road eventually got federal funding. Kirking said it took about 18 months to two years before the county could open bids for the project.

“If they hadn’t done that, that road would be underwater this spring,” Kirking said. “So they did a great job even getting that entered in. By the time with the grade raise, it increases the footprint of the road that brought a lot of right-of-way issues, hydraulic studies, endangered species studies. It’s great getting the cash from the feds, but you are playing their game. They need to check every single box.”

Stink Lake Road.jpg
The water around Stutsman County Road 39 west of Medina, North Dakota, went up about 1.5 feet and 40 mph winds caused damage to the road, according to Andrew Kirking, emergency manager.
Contributed / Cole Kleven

He said the water around Stutsman County Road 39 went up about 1 1/2 feet and 40 mph winds beat up the road.

“Whether that road would have been complete last fall or not, it still would have gotten hammered,” he said.

The county commission approved a bid of more than $88,900 from Border States Paving to grind and reshape part of Stutsman County Road 39 west of Medina at its May 3 meeting.

The work that will be done on Stutsman County Road 39 will start about 2 miles west of Medina, and Border States will hire a contractor to grind about 3 miles of the road going to Stink Lake before reshaping the road.

Masaki Ova joined The Jamestown Sun in August 2021 as a reporter. He grew up on a farm near Pingree, N.D. He majored in communications at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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