Two years after 2011 flooding from spring runoff, residents and farmers southwest of Minot still are waiting for repairs to their county roads.
Dana Larsen, Ward County highway engineer, said the county has been waiting on help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has now decided that the work isn't eligible for funding. The county has started engineering to begin the repairs on its own.
"We have to figure out where to come up with the funds, but we are moving forward," Larsen said.
A section of paved Ward County Road 20, about five miles west of South Prairie School, was repaired with gravel after water washed over the road in 2011. The section will be paved this summer.
A road closed sign warns motorists, steering them away from a flooded area on Ward County Road 18, southwest of Minot, Wednesday.
The county hears regularly from residents, who are anxious for the work to get going.
"I just appreciate them understanding," Larsen said. "We are frustrated just like they are frustrated."
Larsen said FEMA has rejected participation in about $5 million in county road repair projects. Among denied projects are grade raises at Ward County Roads 11 and 18, southwest of Minot, which remain under water.
Larsen said FEMA has informed the county that it will not fund repairs because the cost exceeds the benefit due to the small number of residents affected in those areas.
"We were very disappointed in that," he said. "It really came down to cost."
The county is developing reconstruction plans for County Roads 11 and 18 so they can be repaired this summer. Larsen said the county may need to get permits from the State Water Commission and possibly Corps of Engineers for County Road 18, which could slow the completion of that project.
Larsen said the county will proceed with long-awaited work on Ward County Road 16, another road southwest of Minot that was flooded in 2011. The work will be done as authorized by FEMA, although the county believes additional repairs will be necessary to get the road back to where it should be. Additional work could be done later at the county's expense.
FEMA funded the engineering and geotechnical study on Ward County Road 4, located between Donnybrook and Kenmare, west of U.S. Highway 52. That work is finishing up, and results will be used by FEMA to determine the flood-related repairs that it will fund, Larsen said. Whether any work is done this year depends on how quickly FEMA can assess the information, he said.
Funding for work deemed not eligible for FEMA assistance could come from savings in other road projects. Larsen said that the county has saved money in its federal-aid highway program because the cost of 2011 flood repairs have been less than expected. The leftover, local matching dollars could be used elsewhere.
One area where the county is seeing a savings is the $2 million grade raise on the Makoti road, about six miles south of Makoti. The bid was well below the engineer's estimate, Larsen said.
The Makoti road remains closed and under eight to nine feet of water, down from as much as about 12 feet during the worst of the flooding. The county plans to have the road raised and opened by this fall.
The Makoti road is one of several federal-aid construction projects planned this summer. Some repairs were done previously to get roads open, and the work this summer will finalize the projects.
The projects include grade raises that have been graveled and need paving. These locations are on Ward County Road 20, west of South Prairie School; Ward County Road 10 between the U.S. Highway 83 Bypass and Ward County Road 15 near Burlington; and Ward County Road 22 near Ryder, including work at Ward County Road 13 where Country Road 22 crosses. Another repair project is on Ward County Road 24, a graveled road between Douglas and U.S. Highway 83.