An estimated $900,000 road improvement project carrying potential special assessments of more than $26,000 per benefiting lot is planned for Hay Creek Pines subdivision, located 6 miles northeast of Bismarck.

The Burleigh County Commission on Monday authorized a May 30 bid letting for the project, which is expected to be completed this year.

In an effort to lower landowners’ specials by an estimated $5,700 each, the commission, acting as the Burnt Creek Unorganized Township Board, also designated $200,000 from the Burnt Creek Township fund for the roadway improvements.

“The price per lot is unusually high for this particular subdivision,” said County Engineer Marcus Hall. “Typically, we’re running special assessment districts around $10,000 to $12,000 right now. So this particular one is quite a bit more.”

While there’s the potential for steep specials, 71 percent of the landowners signed the petition to move forward with the project, Hall said. The assessment district consists of 35 lots.

Subdivision resident Alan Klein spoke in favor of the project at Monday night’s commission meeting and shared photos of the deteriorating road, which challenges motorists with a combination of boulders and 12-inch deep potholes.

“It really has blown up this spring, much worse than it was last year,” Klein said. “If it goes back to gravel, the residents aren’t happy because that’s not what it was when any of us moved there. We realize we need to do a special assessment district and we’d get charged, obviously, to some degree.”

Excessive groundwater has been an issue in the subdivision in recent years and it may have contributed to the deterioration of the roadway, according to Hall.

Last fall, a groundwater removal project aimed at improving the stability of the roadbed in and around the subdivision, reducing sump pump operations in homes, protecting structures and preventing trees from drowning was rescinded at the request of the benefiting property owners.

“On this project, we have a lot of problems. I don’t totally know if it was all design problems way back when this was originally built,” Hall said. “We’ve also experienced a lot of groundwater coming up in a lot of areas in the county.”

Fifty-three percent of the project is subsurface work, which Hall says is driving up the costs.

“It is more than usual that they (special assessment district residents) are dealing with,” he said. “It’s just not the paving; they’re more than willing to pay for the paving. It’s the subsurface work that they were looking at maybe getting some help on.”

After the $200,000 designation, the Burnt Creek Township fund has a remaining balance of $250,000. 

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(Reach Cheryl McCormack at 701-250-8264 or cheryl.mccormack@bismarcktribune.com.)​