February 20, 2009

Road paving bill moves ahead

Road paving bill moves ahead
By Jill Denning Gackle
BHG News Service
A bill to pave 42 miles of area roads came before a group of lawmakers, pulled out of the driveway and navigated the first turn successfully.
Or that’s the way Friends of Lake Sakakawea members termed it after the House Transportation Committee trimmed the funding from $30 million to $15 million and passed the bill on to the full House for a vote.
The bill proposes that seven high traffic areas be upgraded from gravel to paving. The areas include six miles of paving to Camp of the Cross/Triangle Y Camp, four to Indian Hills, six to McKenzie Bay, eight to Reunion Bay, 10 miles to White Earth Bay, five to Wolf Creek Recreation Area and three to Little Beaver Bay.
Another bill, HB1514, was heard at the same time; that bill would increase the money that is available in a special roads fund designated toward historical, recreational and tourist roads. The bill called for 100 percent of the interest earnings to go toward these types of roads. The committee passed the bill after changing the percentage to 80 percent.
Bill Mitzel, former publisher of Dakota Country and long-time fishermen, testified, “I was really overjoyed. As a fishermen and hunter who has traveled many of those roads through dust, bumps and holes, the news of possible pavement was almost angelic.”
He said that North Dakota has its priorities a little skewed.
“There’s been talk of spending a few million dollars to renovate the governor’s mansion, in the interest of public image. That is, impressing those who come to visit. Yet we have this sparkling treasure in Lake Sakakawea that, to a large degree, goes undeclared, and under appreciated in its importance to our state. Lake Sakakawea is unique. It’s beautiful, it’s productive and it’s a treasure that would tremendously benefit from improved access.”

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