BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota officials said they hope the weather allows the majority of planned road upgrades to be completed after millions of dollars of work has already been finished this summer.
North Dakota Department of Transportation operations director Wayde Swenson told The Bismarck Tribune (http://bit.ly/2dOYvl1 ) about two-thirds of the 193 scheduled projects were finished as of last week. At this time in previous years, only about 45 to 55 percent of the work was completed.
“We’ve had a pretty good construction season. We got a good jump on the projects (this spring) and it’s continued through,” Swenson said. “We’ll see what the weather brings.”
Senson said the department usually finishes to 85 to 90 percent of the projects.
About $560 million of the $680 million planned for projects this year was bid out. Swenson said the lower number was a result of two rounds of mandatory budget cuts ordered by the governor earlier this year.
“We’re going to be less than what we’ve had the last three, four years,” said Swenson.
According to Swenson there is need for continued maintenance and precautionary work. Next year he expects more dependence on federal dollars due to the tight state budget.
North Dakota Department of Transportation Director Grant Levi said, the original budget for 2015 to 2017 budget proposed state highway projects were more than $1.3 billion, now about $328 million in savings have emerged due to the lower bids and material costs.
“The construction industry has had a great construction season,” Levi said.
Lack of funding put about $80 million in projects on hold. However tighter budgeting made for more prioritization. The state did much of what was originally planned for 2016 despite having less funding.
Levi could not speculate on how much the new budget proposal for 2017 to 2019 will be compared to the current proposal. However he anticipates it will be lower than the current budget.