County nixes city’s request for funding

The Barnes County Commission voted unanimously to deny a request from Valley City Mayor Bob Werkhoven for funds to help cover the cost of the Ninth Avenue Northwest project in the city.

Werkhoven had requested $125,000 from the county’s Farm to Market Fund to cover the road’s repair and other work, but commissioners said funding was already spread too thin.

Barnes County Roads Superintendent Kerry Johnson and State’s Attorney Lee Grossman also urged the commission to deny the city’s request.
“I don’t feel it’s in our best interest to be involved in this,” said Commissioner Rodger Berntson.

Berntson had discussed the matter with Werkhoven prior to the commission meeting, and said the county’s Farm to Market Fund had already been hit heavily with road repairs.

Despite a mild winter, Johnson said gravel roads in the county are in worse shape now than they were a year ago, when overland flooding and record snowfall wreacked havoc on the roads.

“We’re losing the fight on the gravel roads,” Johnson said.

“It’s just a lot of soft spots. I thought they had dried out last fall but they’re wet and with these rains we’ve been getting and the moisture that’s already in the road, they’re not healing up. They’re continuing to get worse.”

The county currently has a 6-ton-per-axle weight limit on county roads, and even though the State Department of Transportation is looking to lift its weight restrictions next week, Johnson said it was still too early for the county to make a similar move.

The county also received bad news about a hill slide on County Road 21 at the Ashtabula Lake Crossing. A look 40 feet under the surface found there was no suitable subsurface material to repair the road on, and a further study will have to be conducted.