Perfect Storm of Wet Weather and Record Growth Combines - - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Perfect Storm of Wet Weather and Record Growth Combines to Give City -- and Others -- a Hurricane of a Headache

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Record growth and wet weekends in Bismarck likely mean months of delay for the City -- and others.

  "We have a lot more work and not a very cooperative mother nature at this time of year," says Mel Bullinger, City Engineer, Bismarck.
Unusual precipitation creates unexpected delays with Bismarck street projects. 

"Even before we get to the part where we talk about paving on streets, we've got water and sewer underground utilities to put in, as well as curb and gutter, and all of that is impacted by excessive moisture," says Bullinger.

This year alone, the City contracted to resurface or reconstruct over 20 of its 300 miles of streets -- that's nearly $29 million dollars worth of paving.  Plus, Bismarck has processed 62 new sub-divisions now in various stages of approval -- three times more than 2011.  Says Bullinger, "if things proceed as we think they will, some things are not going to get paved" -- creating a hurricane of a headache for the City, and others.  "It's not a perfect storm, but it's certainly a storm you don't want to contend with."

The result being a domino effect, as builders and ultimately, homeowners are delayed, since certificates of occupancy will not be able to be issued.

Jamie Schmidt, Vice President of Triton Homes notes, "builders are making commitments to other buyers, so that's becoming an issue because you are projecting these are going to be done at a certain time."    

"So, basically, what it is, is a hardship for the developers because the money they've invested to this point, they're not going to be able to recoup that money perhaps until later next year instead of this year," says Bullinger.

Plus, builders say they're still trying to overcome the impact of last year's delays.  "Right now, we're probably off by 15 to 20 that we were hoping to have done this year," says Schmidt.  As a result, "it might create a little bit of an issue with inventory too, for not as many lots available to sell in the spring, because of the fact there isn't infrastructure.  So that could, in turn, make house prices go up too."

The City says, typically, paving ceases around November 1st, since its specifications do not allow paving below about 25 degrees.   It's a paving predicament only an "act of God" -- such as a fair-weather fall -- can mitigate.  

The City is looking at options for its undone developments, including mixing additives with asphalt, which permits paving five to seven degrees colder than you normally could.  However, options are limited once the ground is frozen.  In some instances, it may be necessary to install gravel surfacing on the affected roadways as a temporary measure, until the 2014 construction season.


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