City has concerns about safety as Phase 2A begins

Louise Oleson, Editor

Monday night at their regularly scheduled meeting the Devils Lake City Commission learned that the contractor engaged to do Phase 2A of the embankment raise does not want to create a haul road as the city hoped.

That news delivered by City Engineer Mike Grafsgaard drew immediate and grave concerns from all members of the commission.

“What’s it going to take?” asked Mayor Dick Johnson. “Who do we need to call to get these people to see how dangerous that intersection will be with all those trucks hauling tons of material?”

Their concern? They’re worried about the intersection of US Highway 2 and 57, already one of the busiest intersections in the region.

The contractor wants to utilize the existing roads to haul the materials that will be used in the building up of the embankment from the present location of the levee to the bridge on 57. That would send hundreds of loads down city streets effecting traffic flow and safety, especially at the intersection where the trucks coming from the east would have to turn south.

“We have Wallys Supermarket right there at that corner, too, that’s going to impact them, as well,” Commissioner Rick Morse stated.

The City Commission wanted the contractor to build a haul road along the outskirts of the residential area that would bypass the busy intersection and save city streets from the serious wear and tear of all that hauling.

Now, according to Grafsgaard, they’ve decided against building the haul road, for the time being.

“I think they’ll find it impossible to get their loads through as quickly as they need, so they will change their minds about the haul road. Let’s hope nothing horrible happens at that intersection - like a terrible accident - before they do,” Grafsgaard said.

“We can’t let that traffic through town,” Johnson said.

“We are of one mind on this.”

The next phase of work to be done on the embankment raise is slated to begin within the next week or two. Once the actual work begins, it will be a challenge to use Highway 57 south of the city as pilot cars may have to be utilized both on the stretch the city is responsible for and the stretch located on the Spirit Lake Nation.

“You could run into one pilot car that would bring you to the bridge and another that would take you from the bridge south, all in the same trip,” Grafsgaard explained.

The city voted to require a permit for large scale hauling on its streets including pre-haul and post-haul inspections and requiring any damage to be repaired once work is completed.

Johnson suggested the DOT set up the electronic signs that let motorists know what their speed is along area roads. “Sometimes you see those long-distance trucks coming through and you know they are not traveling the speed limit,” he said.

“Maybe one of those ‘Your Speed is . . .’ signs would make a difference,” Johnson added.

The city also discussed allowing the construction contractors to set up a staging area and a contractor’s yard near Ed’s Bait Shop on the west side of Highway 57.

Other business

City Attorney Tom Traynor said he’d received only three suggestions of changes for the city’s smoking ordinance. He will incorporate those changes and have the ordinance posted on the website by the end of the week.

He also informed the commission that the lawyers they’d engaged would be here two weeks from Monday. Since the meeting has such a full agenda, they would meet with the commission on Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. first in a special open meeting, but then go into a closed session.

Chris Schilken from Forward Devils Lake talked with the commission about the city’s industrial park. He is working on getting all the studies done to possibly expand the park in order to make it more attractive for potential companies.

“It would give us more options,” Schilken said.

Gary Martinson reported on the progress made relocating Black Construction. He asked the city to approve a purchase of land and a property exchange to further that project along.

As the deadline for the Devils Lake Task Force report nears, it was discussed who should go to Washington to represent the city. The mayor said that the task force would most likely inform who they wanted to come to further testify.

Four bids were opened for water meters and a committee was formed to go through the proposals and make a recommendation which bid would best serve the city’s needs.

Myron Asleson talked about the storage building the city had contracted to build. The bids were let in April and the materials are here, but there has been no progress on the building and Asleson expressed concern about that. It was agreed to send a letter requesting the project be completed by a certain date, or someone else would have to be hired to complete the work.

Similarly Asleson expressed concern about some paving and concrete work the city needed done, too. The contractor’s crew was unable to get the work done so he asked for permission to take the next lowest bid for part of the work, if they would honor their earlier bid. He told the city he would look into it.

For new business the city had the first reading of an ordinance dealing with excavating permits, approved payment to Bergstrom Electric for work done at the Water Treatment Plant and approved a memorandum of understanding for the ND Highway 19 grade raise.

The city will hold a special meeting to deal with water issues at 10 a.m. on Aug. 4 in City Hall.