News That Matters To Antelope County - Your News. Your Way. Every Day!
© Pitzer Digital, LLC
County oil roads damaged by the recent flood are about to see major repairs.
While work will begin May 6 with the first 1,000 ton of hot mix, commissioners went even further by locking in the same price during Monday’s special meeting for even more repairs of county roads.
On a motion by Eli Jacob and second by Allan Bentley, the board unanimously approved (5-0) a committee of Jacob and Charlie Henery to assist Road Superintendent Casey Dittrich with prioritizing the repairs from the flood and gave them the ability to move forward with a change order for even more hot mix to repair additional asphalt roads.
“We have to go forward with the flood repair because that is the most unsafe conditions we have on the roads, besides from bridges being out,” he said. “I would rather see us go out and fix 40 miles of road and make them safe with patching and not overlaying than spending everything we have left in the budget to do a mile and half of a road.”
Dittrich added, “I just can’t see us blowing every last dime we have in the budget and telling everyone else that Pierce-Neligh road needed a mile and a half of oil. That’s just not fair to everybody in the county.”
Dittrich said the repairs will be patchwork done in small sections — not entire roads. The state standard is 100 ton per mile, meaning the $324,867.45 approved by commissioners could cover up to 10 miles. Dittrich explained that patchwork could be done in an 8x20 box on part of the road but the size could be much different on another part.
“This is a big step forward for Antelope County,” Dittrich said. “But there’s much more work to be done besides flood repair.”
During Monday’s meeting, commissioners approved spending $600,000 to begin repairing flood damaged roads, the Royal Road and a bridge north of Orchard.
That’s $324,867.45 on flood damaged roads, another $210,000 on a half mile of the Royal Road and $53,000 on a bridge by Orchard.
Dittrich said while the repairs will help, it only scratches the surface of “the No. 1 problem of Antelope County,” which is road conditions.
Dittrich said he has only $2.5 million in his budget for roads and bridges. Considering county roads were in such disarray even before the flood damage, Dittrich told commissioners point blank they need a plan of how to correct the situation because prices are skyrocketing and the roads are continuing to deteriorate.
“What we have budgeted this year, we can (repair) about 1.4 miles a year, so in about 120 years, we’ll have everything overlaid so it can last 15 years,” Dittrich said. “That’s a real problem, guys.”
Dittrich said he’s researched the county and has the data needed to start mapping a long-term plan for road repair, but he wants commissioners to make the final decision on priorities since they are the elected officials.
“I’m not going be the bad guy for a whole district to hate because I’m the one who said this road is set priority over what roads need to be fixed,” he said. “I’m just telling you we’ve done this band aid process for too long. I’ve tried it for three years. I’ve totally changed the band aid process and went from a band aid to a wrap.”
That’s why Dittich asked commissioners to hold off on repairing the 1.5 miles of the Pierce-Neligh Road, which they agreed wasn’t any worse condition than other county roads. The bid from Knife River Midwest of Sioux City, Iowa, opened at Monday’s meeting totaled $1.4 million, which not only included the $525,000 that was approved, but also nearly $900,000 for Pierce-Neligh Road.
During Monday’s 101-minute meeting, commissioners opted to hold off on the Pierce-Neligh Road because it would cost $300,000 per half mile, which they said was unfair to spend considering the disarray of other roads.
Instead, Dittrich recommended focusing on the half mile of the Royal Road — 855 Road to 855 1/2 Road of 519th Avenue — which butts up to the two miles being repaired by Invenergy, which is 853 Road to 855 Road. Bruce Jorgenson of Knife River Midwest agreed to honor the bid if separated.
The next priority, the commissioners agreed, was flood damaged roads. Also approved was repairing the bridge near Orchard. The bridge at 513th Avenue north of 868 Road, which was considered the top priority of all bridges, was approved at $53,000.
Commissioners then authorized advertising bids for the Tilden north bridge, which is one of nine other bridge projects following the flood. Dittrich said four of the next eight are nearly ready to begin bidding. He said the bridge project priorities are based through the organizations’ recommendations.
The two bridges shared with Knox County will be closed for some time, engineer Brian McDonald said.