By Mike Brown
and Dana Sande
Melt during the day, and freeze at night. Melt during the day, and freeze at night. So the pattern goes as we transition from winter to spring in North Dakota.
While the pattern helps us incrementally get rid of snow, it creates a massive strain on the roads. Each crack or hole filling with water that then freezes and expands with ice gets a little bigger and a little harder to drive on as we anxiously await spring and summer.
The city has been discussing the need for road maintenance for decades. However, the solution to road maintenance and reconstruction always require large amounts of money. The federal government and state government have reduced their local aid, which has put the city of Grand Forks, and many communities in our area, under increased strain for funding. In particular, the last three budget cycle discussions have spent a great deal of time focusing on the roads that have maintenance and reconstruction needs, the need for funding, and the shortfalls.
The addition of the local sales tax for streets and water infrastructure will help us provide better service and hopefully make next spring better than this one. The good news is we have more resources to go toward roads, and this will roughly double the amount we spend on rehab and reconstruction projects this summer. With the portion of the sales tax dedicated to street maintenance, the city is in the process of purchasing updated equipment to extend the maintenance capabilities and the life of newer pavement. We also have an ambitious list of road projects and pending construction bids, plan for a big summer of road construction.
And as you've seen, crews are currently out placing early season patches until higher temperatures allow for bonding of pavement and patching materials for a more durable repair. There is a website available and citizens can report potholes through the City's 311 system so street crews can know where there are needs: www.grandforksgov.com/potholes.
The needs for road repair and preventative maintenance are crucial and at the forefront of our planning and discussions. As city leaders, we want to focus on getting as much repair work done as we can to try to catch up on some of the backlog and demonstrate we are using the street and water sales tax wisely and effectively.
We know the rest of the City Council members are receiving the same questions and have similar positions to ours: We hear your concerns and recognize the issue. In fact, we have asked the matter be placed on the Monday (March 19) agenda. It is at the forefront of discussions and prioritized in budgets and we thank you for being active and engaged in our community.
Mike Brown is mayor of Grand Forks. Jeannie Mock and Dana Sande are members of the Grand Forks City Council.