May 5, 2015

County plans major rural water expansion

By Amy Robinson
Farmer Staff Writer

Several large projects are in the works for McKenzie County for 2015, including projects in the Water Department, the Geographical Information System (GIS) Department, the Landfill Department, and the Road & Bridge Department.
With a very big water expansion system in McKenzie County and an average annual water budget of anywhere from $750,000 to $1 million, a large project, known as the ‘System One Expansion,’ is slated to begin this summer. This expansion will stretch from Alexander to just north of Tobacco Garden.
“This project is being mostly funded and overseen by the Western Area Water Supply Authority (WAWSA),” said Suhail Kanwar, McKenzie County Public Works director. “But we definitely have a lot of involvement in it. Because we need to make sure we’re hooked up to everything properly and things run deep enough, etc., we’re very involved. And we have a good relationship with WAWSA. We buy water from them and they work on our water expansion system.”
In the GIS Department, they are implementing the LiDAR project. The project consists of having the entire county flown, which will capture all the elevations and take aerial pictures. It will include all the places with populations such as Watford City and Alexander, etc. And it will measure in three-dimension, to include building heights.
“It’s a great project this year,” stated Kanwar. “The information and measurements will really help our departments. The flight was completed last year, and right now, the data is being analyzed. We’re hoping the data will be complete by late May. It will be available to internal-users first, and then the public. The project has been a partnership with many different agencies. For example, a state agency is reviewing and analyzing the data for us now.”
The final cost for the LiDAR project is expected to be roughly $700,000. It’s increased a little, according to Kanwar, because they’ve continued to add scope and different entities to it. The person who will implement the LiDAR program is Aaron Chisholm, the county’s GIS coordinator.
“I have been very pleased with Aaron,” said Kanwar. “He came a little over a year ago and he’s brought lots of talent. He’s helped on several projects and he’s the one who is going to implement our LiDAR program. His background and talents have been very helpful.”
In the Landfill Department, there are also several projects in the plans for 2015. They will be working on a public drop-off area, adding a small network of roads in the landfill campus, adding an outbound scale, and a second leche pond.
“The new network of roads will help with the traffic in and out,” stated Kanwar. “It’s somewhat of a chaos right now. We need to provide roads to our new cell in and out as well. The outbound scale, another project, should be completed sometime this spring. The scale was almost complete, we just had to wait for the weather to warm up to finish the trenching/wiring work to get the outbound scale in full operation. The second leche pond project was under construction last year and will be completed this year, hopefully sometime this spring.”
For all the landfill projects in 2015, there will be a combined total cost of roughly $850,000. These projects fall under the category of ‘Capital Improvement Projects for 2015’ according to Kanwar.
And lastly, in the Road & Bridge Department, several road projects are slated to begin and hopefully finish in 2015. And according to Kanwar, the McKenzie County Board of Commissioners has awarded all the bids for three of the road projects. The big project for 2015 is the Northern Bypass Phase I project, which will cover approximately 13.4 miles in length. The low bid for this project came in at $29.4 million.
Another project is Route 30, which will cover roughly seven miles. The low bid came in at $10.2 million. According to Kanwar, a requested pre-construction meeting will hopefully take place this week. County Road 53 Phase II is another project that is currently already under construction. South of Johnson Corners, this project will cover approximately 6.4 miles and will cost roughly $9.5 million.
The last road project is 132nd Avenue (from Highway 85 to the landfill). It will cover about 2.5 miles and cost roughly $5.6 million.
“This project is being done in cooperation with a private public partnership,” said Kanwar. “Their contribution is $1 million toward this project. The bid has already been awarded and pre-construction is starting this week. Pre-construction is a very big landmark. After that, the contractor is ready to go. This project is slated to be done this summer. There will be detours during all of the road projects - that’s very typical for these kinds of projects.”
According to Kanwar, all road projects the county will be working on for 2015 are big projects. If adding all the numbers together, he believes it’s pretty significant for the county, even though bids are coming in roughly 20 to 25 percent below budget.
“We’ll be plenty busy,” states Kanwar. “We have a really good strategy relationship with the DOT and other  agencies in moving forward with our projects. I have to say, they’ve been very helpful. I also want to say, to a degree, our goal is to really provide the best transportation system and other public utilities to improve safety, efficiency, service, and quality of life at the best possible cost.”
“We are really striving to improve our services,” said Kanwar. “There has been a diligent conscious effort to improve our services. We really are here to serve the public and we strive to serve them well. We’re not perfect, but we’re really trying to do our best.”