Posted 6/23/15 (Tue)
By John D. Taylor
Darrell Arne, Faith Winings and Joel Wilt, from the Williston branch of the state Department of Transportation (NDDOT) came to Crosby last Thursday evening to talk about two state road projects tentatively scheduled for 2016 in Divide and northern Williams County.
About 15 area residents – including Lynn Michaelson of New Century Ag, Jody Gunlock, Wallace Schilke, Les Bakken, Josh Bummer, Amanda Sundberg, Art Schilke and Crosby Mayor Bert Anderson – those most affected by the plans, got a chance to learn about the plans, share their view on the work.
Both projects involve N.D. 42 improvements, from Noonan to the junction of N.D. 50.
From N.D. 50 to 5
The first project, a $20 million effort, according to Arne, would begin at N.D. 50 and run north on N.D. 42, to N.D. 5 in Crosby.
The pavement on this stretch of highway is 40 years old, he said, in poor to fair condition, with all kinds of cracks, extensive patching and many potholes, so it will need a “major rehab.”
This will involve grinding up the existing pavement, blending it with the top 6 to 8 inches of existing road foundation, and topping this with up to 5 inches of hot bituminous pavement. Also, flattening about 9 miles of the road’s foreslopes (the area from the outside of the road’s shoulder to the bottom of the ditch) and making improvements to the junction of N.D. 42 and N.D. 50 were included.
Arne said one left hand turn lane might be used at the junction of N.D. 42 and N.D. 50, however five other turn lanes, at 84th, 94th, 96th, 98th and 99th streets were considered and studied but deemed unnecessary.
During the construction, Arne said, N.D. 42 would be limited to a single lane, with a pilot car guiding motorists along the route.
Gunlock wondered about rebuilding the base of the road. Arne and Wilt said the base would be stabilized using cement mixed into the base, which should “bridge” some problem areas.
Bummer asked about the Gross Vehicle Weight for the new road.
Arne said it would be built to handle up to 105,500 pounds per axle. And Wilt said N.D. 42 was currently posted at 6 tons per axle to “save” the road from further damage so it could be eventually rehabilitated.
Wilt also said that depending on federal funding coming into the state, this project might get bumped into 2017.
Wallace Schilke wondered about the road’s shoulders, and expressed a concern that Divide County has been griping to NDDOT for several years about the need for more state roads across Divide County.
“We need more state highways,” Schilke said,” our roads are totally falling apart. Highway 42 should go all the way to N.D. 1804.”
Wilt countered with how the Williston district has embarked on a “huge construction program” for the last four years and how NDDOT has been working on U.S. 85, 2 and N.D. 50 with lane improvements and other work. He also complained about the 2015-17 budget being far short of what NDDOT needs.
“Who do we blame then,” Schilke asked, “the legislators?”
Wilt said federal funding was the problem. NDDOT can’t do much without federal money and every two years NDDOT battles with the state and the federal government for more money. “We’re in the trenches,” he said.
From Crosby to Noonan
The second project involves the stretch of N.D. 42 between Noonan and Crosby.
This project is scheduled for 2016, but also dependent upon federal funding, according to Winings.
However, this roadway is in far better shape than the southern leg of N.D. 42, and will require only “minor” rehabilitation.
This would include a 3-inch overlay of hot mix asphalt, along with a destination light, intersection improvements and a truck stopping lane at the railroad crossing near New Century Ag’s new terminal.
Wining detailed how all of the intersections in Crosby and at New Century Ag’s grain terminal between Noonan and Crosby – 5th Ave. South, 8th Ave. South, 2nd St. Southeast, 4th St. Southeast, and the two truck stop entrances – were studied for possible turn lanes, but none met NDDOT’s parameters for including them.
However, the intersection of N.D. 5 and the Farm-to-Market Road (County Road 15) is being considered for one of two treatments:
Truck stopping lanes were suggested for the railroad crossing at New Century Ag’s new terminal.
Also, a pedestrian crossing was suggested for where 2nd St. SE joins with N.D. 5, and a livestock crossing currently under the roadway west of Crosby will need to be extended 6 feet on either side.
When Wilt wondered how many trucks per day the New Century Ag terminal might hose, Michaelson’s response surprised him.
“We could have about 150 trucks per day when we’re loading grain cars,” Michaelson said. He also described how, while the new terminal was being built, more than 300 grain-carrying semi-trucks visited Westby’s New Century facility in just a day and a half.
Sundberg and Bummer agreed that grain shipments would be heavy from April through June and again in the fall.
Sundberg also talked about looking out of her New Century Ag terminal office window and seeing buses, trailers, stock trucks and other vehicles that must stop at the railroad tracks, and worrying about safety.
Michaelson said that New Century wanted to include a letter from its board of directors and Walt Peterson about turn turns lanes and the “S” curve east of the terminal.
Gunlock also pointed out heavy traffic flowing from Estevan down into Noonan, and how this pounds roads, and agree with Sundberg and Bummer, with heavy traffic going into New Century Ag and the dangerous “S” curve on N.D. 42/5 east of the terminal.
Wining promised a survey of traffic crossing the railroad tracks, and Wilt promised that NDDOT would reevaluate their fairly old vehicle count numbers as well, but noted that NDDOT “can’t build roads for special situations.” He pointed to the fall beet harvest in the eastern part of the state, how this skews vehicle count numbers. He also noted how his road building and maintaining budget had increased from $17 million in 2001 when he started working for NDDOT to $500 million last year, and told the audience it was a “challenge” simply to keep up with the work.