May 13, 2015

County commission addresses road issues, road program

By Daniel Arens

The Mercer County Commission listened to a presentation by Denise Brown from the North Dakota Local Technical Assistance Program (NDLTAP) concerning a motor-grader operator training event with the intention of providing instruction on new developments and operating techniques for constructing and maintaining gravel roads. This training will be hosted June 1-2. The two-day training will be presented by Corey Uhrich, a heavy equipment operations and maintenance instructor from Minnesota.
“Our goal is to educate and to provide outreach,” Brown said. She went on, “We don’t hire just anyone. We want people with expertise out there training our people.”
Brown said that Uhrich does not simply lecture, but is hands-on, helping the trainees with experience in the field.
The first day of the training, June 1, will be a classroom day and will focus on dust control methods, drainage, repair of frost heaves, use of fabric, gravel quality blading techniques, safe operation of equipment, and daily equipment maintenance. This training will be at the Grandview Steakhouse in Beulah. Other counties will be able to participate with Mercer County in this training, and each county will be able to learn some of the techniques used by neighboring counties, a process Brown called invaluable networking.
The second day of the training, June 2, will be a field day, which will be held for no more than seven Mercer County employees. The size limitation will allow employees more direct interaction with Uhrich. It will include hands-on training, pre-trip and post-trip inspections, safe operations, equipment operations, and aggregate knowledge. Equipment required with the training include a motor-grader, water truck, and a packer-roller.
Most NDLTAP training is free, although when the trainer comes in on-site there is a fee of $150 per person. Lunch will be provided, as well as other snacks and refreshments. A gravel road maintenance manual written by Ken Skorseth from the South Dakota Local Technical Assistance Program is provided to trainees as well. Brown regarded Skorseth’s work highly, calling him “the gravel road guru of the world.”
Brown was the first person from NDLTAP to work out of the Bismarck office, which has existed for almost a decade. The program operates under the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute (UGPTI) and is funded by the Federal Highway Administration, the ND Department of Transportation, and the ND Insurance Reserve Fund.

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