Funnies Extra!

Highway 83 paving begins

10/29/09 (Thu)

Highway 83 paving begins
By STU MERRY
If Mother Nature cooperates, motorists should be driving on the southbound lane of U. S. Highway 83 within a short time.
Crews with Northern Improvement of Dickinson began laying what is called the two-inch bottom lift of asphalt this past Saturday. Paving continued Sunday until weather conditions deteriorated said Harley Neshem, president of Gratech Construction of Berthold, the general contractor for the project.
Terry Burke, vice president with Gratech, said putting down the 18-inch gravel/recycled asphalt base course on the northern edge of the 13-mile project that stretches from Garrison to Max is nearly complete.
“If we could get a little nice weather it would be great,” Burke said.
Neshem said the project was originally scheduled for completion Oct. 17. But because of unforeseen additional work and weather delays the project has seen several setbacks. He said less than ideal weather conditions experienced throughout the summer is an understatement.
“We’ve had workers wading in mud,” he said, adding Highway 83 has turned out to be one tough project.
“The degree of wetness of the soil under the old asphalt was unexpected,” he said. “We didn’t anticipate dealing with that.”
Neshem, who has ties to the Max area, said the section of road between Max and Garrison has a penchant for rain, which has presented its fair share of setbacks to the workers.
“If it was sunny in Berthold, it was probably raining in Max and Garrison,” he said. “It’s been an extremely challenging project.”
One of the drawbacks was the lateness of the start of the project. Bids were let in early May with the contract issued later that month. Gratech crews spent the first month installing culverts in the median before closing the southbound lane in late June. Earthwork began in early July and was completed the end of September.
Neshem admitted July was an extremely poor construction month with the majority of the work being pushed into August and September. He also noted that the project wouldn’t have come to fruition if not for the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009, or the stimulus package, which funded the project. He said the lateness of the bid letting was due to the time it took for stimulus paperwork to go through the pipeline.