Road committee signs on to matrix plan

The Road Steering Committee, charged with looking at Stutsman County roads and prioritizing repair projects, decided Monday it had completed its task.

The Road Steering Committee, charged with looking at Stutsman County roads and prioritizing repair projects, decided Monday it had completed its task.

County Highway Superintendent Mike Zimmerman told the County Commission Tuesday that the committee had voted Monday to go with the matrix system as designed by Interstate Engineering for the commission. Originally crafted to give commissioners a hand in determining roads and cost of repair, it produces a computer-generated printout that prioritizes roads using four factors. The committee left those in place rather than suggest any new factors to be used in the ranking system, Zimmerman said.

The factors in deciding where roads rank for repair and maintenance are average daily traffic, truck use, capital costs per mile and meeting government standards.

The matrix factors have close to equal weight, with 30 percent used as the highest percentage and the lowest just under 20 percent in the system's practice runs. Zimmerman said Richland County places about 90 percent of the weight in condition of the road and traffic counts.

"The committee accepted the matrix system as is with the four factors," he said. "Most seemed satisfied with it, but they also said the commission can tweak it."


Steve Thompson, the Interstate engineer who designed it, said in a telephone conversation Tuesday that some tweaking of the four factors would make the matrix system a better tool.

"And with ongoing data and continual updating, a very good system could be put in place," Thompson said.

Zimmerman said the committee generally agreed the County Commission should make decisions about roads and funding, not the committee. The committee chose the matrix system was because it leaves out politics and emotion.

"Several of the committee members said privately that they think the county is doing a good job with the money we have available. They said we don't need them to tell us how to do our job," Zimmerman said. "The committee doesn't want to pick and choose roads to repair."

However, some members did argue for more current traffic counts, Zimmerman said. The traffic counts being used were taken just last year and the North Dakota Department of Transportation, applying its adjustment formulas to arrive at average daily traffic, approved the county's counts.

"But the committee wants us to come up with traffic counts everyone can agree with," Zimmerman said, adding he had no idea how that could be accomplished.

The Road Steering Committee decided it would not meet again unless the County Commission has a particular issue for the members to address.

If nothing is changed in the matrix system, the road at the top of the list would be County Road 38 from U.S. Highway 281 to Ypsilanti. The seven-mile stretch needs patch and seal work at an estimated cost of $280,000. All but one of the top 11 ranked roads require maintenance such as patching and sealing, rather than serious repair.


"These are maintenance jobs that the county can do," Zimmerman said.

The county's budget is about $340,000 a year for that kind of work, with another $25,000 a year for crack sealing.

The one top-ranked road in the top 12 that needs serious construction work is 17.5 miles of County Road 68 from Medina to Woodworth at a cost of $3.8 million. If the present matrix system is followed CR 68 would probably be the next major project planned by the commission.

Zimmerman said even though the Road Steering Committee stopped short of laying out a plan for road repair, he's satisfied with what was accomplished. "If nothing else the committee got a good education on county roads," he said.

In other business, the County Commission approved providing up to $15,000 in an interest buydown for Reister Meats and Catering recommended by the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. board. The Streeter-based company is taking out a loan of $90,000 to get the business off the ground, Clyde Reister told the commission. The county's portion is 90 percent or $13,500 for the buydown. The city's share is $1,500. JSDC Chief Executive Officer Connie Ova said she talked with companies considered possible competition and they had no objections to the JSDC funding.

The commission delayed approving the ToMarket project due to an objection by Len Orr, co-founder of the business. He said he and his partner Mark Teckenburg don't believe $27,000 to be used as a rent subsidy should be considered in the preferred stock. The JSDC took a preferred stock position on the $57,000 it is providing for the company. Orr said he and his partner consider the $27,000 an incentive to locate the business downtown. They've no objection to the $30,000 loan being secured by a preferred stock position, he said.

Commission Chairman Steve Cichos suggested Ova take the problem back to the JSDC executive committee for resolution. He said the commission would vote on it at its next meeting. The county's share of the $100,000 funding package is $10,000 or 10 percent.

Sun staff reporter Toni Pirkl can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by e-mail at

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