Unique road project completed: Railway Road rejuvenation included three territories

The rejuvenation of Railway Road has seen positive reviews, according to Adams County Commissioner Chuck Christman.

Flagger ahead construction sign
File Photo

By COLE BENZ | Record Editor | cbenz@countrymedia.net

The rejuvenation of Railway Road has seen positive reviews, according to Adams County Commissioner Chuck Christman.

The project, which has taken nearly four years to finish, was quite a unique ordeal and something that Christman has never seen in his six years on the commission.

“The project was a huge one because of all the entities involved, but also because of the magnitude of work that required to rebuild the road,” Christman said.

Improvements to the road include new pavement, curbs and gutter along certain sections, improved ditches, and an increased turn lane by Tank Hill, among other things.

The Railway Road runs south from North Dakota to South Dakota, and at a couple points acts as the border between the two states. The road then bends and enters into Lemmon territory. Given the geographical location of the stretch of road in need of repair, the project had to be an effort of three different entities: Adams County, Perkins County in South Dakota and the city of Lemmon. In total, however, five entities could be counted as the project required assistance from the North Dakota Department of Transportation and the South Dakota Department of Transportation.

Perkins County Commissioner Mike Schweitzer said that he knew this was going to be unique when the surveyors had to map out the project according to county and city borders. When asked if he had been through a situation like this, Schweitzer said “absolutely not.”

The stretch of road that was in need of repair is about 1.2 miles in length and goes from the north end of Main Avenue in Lemmon to west of Lemmon one mile to the railroad tracks.

The road was previously Highway 10, but the state abandoned it and it fell onto county territory, and until now the road had been patched up as repairs were needed.

Hazards on the road included pavement cracks, pot holes, rough terrain and steep ditches. Drivers were forced to dodge the pot holes or risk damage to their vehicle. Others faced more treacherous situations as the turn was sharp and vehicles hauling trailers would sometime dump the back wheel down the ditch. Costs for the patch work continued to add up.

“You just kept patching and patching, and it was just a waste of money for the cost of what cold mix and the labor was to do it,” Christman said.

Meetings began nearly four years ago, and when the entities initially gathered, they didn’t know the task they had in front of them.

“We started meeting in 2012, not realizing the task that we were going to have in front of us with all the entities,” Christman said.

At the time Adams County didn’t have the funding, so they were trying to figure it out. But then in 2013 the county got money from the state, a bill passed to benefit none oil producing counties affected by the energy industry. The county initially didn’t get approval because of the unique state of the project, Christman had to go in front of a regional committee in Bismarck and pitch the county’s case.

The committee saw the uniqueness of the situation and approved the project. Perkins County and Lemmon subsequently needed to approach their entities for funding, it was approved and the project began to move forward.

In 2013 project started to come together; engineering work was done, entities were on the same page, and in 2014 it really took off. Project wasn’t bid until 2015, and when it was it was bid through the South Dakota Department of Transportation. Engineering the project was HDR out of Bismarck.

The project finally broke ground this spring, and a week after Memorial Day crews started to work on the revitalization.

During the project drivers were rerouted north on 23rd Street south east on to 2nd Avenue south east before being directed south again on 24th Street south east.

Considering the amount of moister the are received early in the summer, Christman said that they worked timely and finished before their initial September 18 deadline. The road opened up about two weeks ago.

Though it was a meeting between three different territories, Christman said that it was a great experience.

“It was a pleasant experience,” Christman said. “We just dreaded the thought of trying to get anything done, it just worked so well that I think it amazed everyone involved.”

Schweitzer echoed those same sentiments.

“It’s such a pleasure working with this part the world, because we see a need and it’s a common need and we work together to get it done, instead of the ‘what’s in it for me attitude,’” Schweitzer said.