McKenzie County Re-Opens Gravel Roads After Heavy Rain - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

McKenzie County Re-Opens Gravel Roads After Heavy Rain

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Record rain this October has saturated many fields and roads, forcing one county to close its gravel roads altogether to truck traffic.

"We've had around four inches of rain in some places, the last four days." says Jerry Samuelson, emergency manager.

McKenzie County is saturated with oil traffic, but excessive rain has brought some activity to a complete halt.

"So you take that amount of rain, take that amount of truck traffic, it just really compounds things." says Samuelson.

Rain has forced county leaders to close all gravel roads in McKenzie County to trucks and trailers.

From Friday until Tuesday evening, all vehicles weighing 12-thousand pounds or more were not allowed on these rural routes.

"We've had reports the other day where our school buses, couldn't even get to pick up the kids, when you're loaded down 80,000 pounds, we've seen ruts as much as 8-10 inches deep in the road, it makes the road impassable." says Samuelson.

With 1200 miles of gravel roads, it can be hard to track down law-breakers.

But, if caught, the heavier the truck, the heftier the fine.

"If they're loaded and they're out there, 80,000 lbs, the fine is about 13,600 dollars."

On the other hand, it might cost some oil companies more to wait.

"There's just so much activity, lots of phone calls from oil companies wanting to get out on the road, it's hard to hold them back."

Samuelson says they do make special concessions for trucks who might lose a frack and have to keep going, but unless drivers start taking more care, it's not going to be worth it, in the long haul.

"Four inches of rain really tore those roads up again, so we need to get the word out, and have a stiff penalty, so that people realize we mean business in McKenzie County, and we want to take care of our roads for the long term." says Samuelson.

According to McKenzie County Sheriff John Fulwider, at least 11 tickets were given to truck drivers on gravel roads.

This is the first time they have used enforcement--not just warnings for this type of offense.

The gravel roads were opened at 6:00 PM Tuesday night.

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