McKenzie closing roads until mud dries up

2013-10-14T16:49:00Z McKenzie closing roads until mud dries upBy LAUREN DONOVAN | Bismarck Tribune Bismarck Tribune

McKenzie County road operations engineer Mike Dollinger said it's amazing to see how many semi trucks there are in the area, now that they’re sidelined from the county’s gravel and dirt roads until conditions dry up again.

The county is trying to prevent serious and expensive damage to wet and saturated roads and pulled anything heavier than 12,000 pounds gross weight starting Monday morning through at least Tuesday noon, when it will reevaluate conditions again.

Roads also were shut down Friday morning through Saturday noon when more than 2 inches of rain fell, he said.

Dollinger said a committee will look at the situation Tuesday, but with chilly temperatures overnight, he’s not sure roads will dry up enough to allow heavy traffic back on. By late Monday afternoon, the latest rain total was nearing another inch and mixing with snow.

He said truckers are cooperating and the ban means that school buses are the heaviest thing out on the roads.

“It’s amazing how many trucks there are around, now that they’re all parked,” he said.

This is the second period of time this year in which the county’s had to pull heavy oil traffic off its roads. Even though roads were briefly shut down in late May, damage from then is still being repaired. Dollinger said the county regraveled 75 miles of road and could do another 250 miles of fresh gravel. The county has about 1,100 miles of road.

“It’s worth it to do it (close roads),” Dollinger said.

In Williams County, Commissioner Dan Kalil the county hasn’t had to close roads this fall, though it has in the past. “We haven’t had as much rain, so it’s not as much of a problem,” he said.

In Mountrail County, Commissioner David Hynek said roads there are incredibly muddy, but the county is still open for oil business as usual.

“There’s always damage. It’s never manageable, but as of this point, we haven’t closed the roads,” Hynek said.

Dollinger said a McKenzie County road committee will make the call at noon Tuesday and is working to come up with policies and perhaps designate regions within the county so that it can close only parts of the county as needed.

Reach reporter Lauren Donovan at 701-220-5511 or lauren@westriv.com.

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