DOT Fund Shortage May Affect VC Road Construction Projects

The Department of Transportation has a funding shortfall within its urban roads construction program, which is what Valley City uses to help finance construction projects that qualify.

Typically, the North Dakota DOT receives around $240 million per year from the federal government, but this year they’re funded at about $108 million, Valley City City Administrator David Schelkoph said Friday.
The NDDOT distributes the funds they receive from Washington, D.C. to qualified communities in the state that need funds to assist financing constructions programs.

How the city plans to proceed and how the issue is going to be resolved is still up in the air.

“It’s important for the commission and city to understand these federal delays in funding may adversely affect our plans for DOT projects in the future,” Schelkoph said.

“Chad (Petersen) with KLJ and I have been working with 13 other North Dakota cities affected with this shortfall, and we’ve been working with the state DOT as well,” Schelkoph told the Valley City city commission during last week’s regular meeting. “This is a great concern for Valley City because we have DOT urban roads projects already started, and some in the hopper for the future.”

The first option, Schelkoph said, is to “leave everything as is and everybody loses.” The second option is to reset the clock and everybody gets a baseline of $450,000 for their future projects, and the final option is to reset the clock and distribute the funds according to how it’s always been, which is based upon need?

“This year, we waited to start some projects until the current fiscal year DOT budget was passed, but they only passed a partial payment of that,” Schelkoph said.

Roads in Valley City that qualify for the urban roads program include Ninth Avenue Northwest, which will go into its final phase of reconstruction this spring, Fifth Avenue Northeast, 12th Street North and Main Street. Because funding has already been established for Ninth Avenue Northwest, the project is not affected by the funding shortfall.
Schelkoph said the city tries to finance projects on qualified roads at 80 percent from DOT funding and the rest from the city and special assessments.

But going forward, with federal dollars being delayed, Schelkoph said, “We cannot count on them.”

The city has Main Street work planned for 2016.

“Unfortunately we really don’t know if the funding is going to be there or not, that’s why we’re talking about it now,” Schelkoph said. “We need the time to go look for it if we need to find other funding sources.”

He said urban roads are typically built stronger because of truck traffic on those roads, and the projects are “just too expensive” to expect city residents to pay for it all.