Too late for McKenzie County to make the call

2013-06-10T15:26:00Z Too late for McKenzie County to make the callBy LAUREN DONOVAN | Bismarck Tribune Bismarck Tribune

Weekend rain showers were sporadic over one of the busiest counties in the oil patch, further saturating roads already damaged by heavy oil traffic.

Rains weren't concentrated enough to force McKenzie County to shut down all gravel roads to anything more than 20,000 pounds gross weight and by then, the damage was already done anyway.

McKenzie County Commissioner Ron Anderson said the county should have banned heavy traffic during the heavy rain period, but making the call based on rain shower activity turned out to be impractical.

"We're such a large county we had rain in some parts of the county and dust in others," he said.

The county estimates 500 miles of gravel road will need complete resurfacing after this muddy spring.

Anderson said the county is buying more gravel and contracting with equipment operators to get the work done.

The cost will be enormous at around $100,000 a mile and he said other projects will have to be put off to pay the tab.

"We're not getting enough money out of Bismarck to take care of this," he said.

He complimented Whiting Petroleum, one company that had voluntarily pulled its trucks during the worst of the mud and said truckers carrying aggregate to well pads and independent truckers are the worst because they're not easy to contact.

Anderson said it might be time for the county to get tough in order to protect its roads, not only for its own investment, for the local residents who suffer the consequences through no fault of their own.

"We haven't gotten nasty because we're pretty progressive about these things," he said. "But if it keeps recurring over and over, you have to do something."

He said the county will discuss how to react more quickly when the road system is threatened.

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

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