Dunn County Highway Department makes necessary expansion

With the increase in population due to the oil boom in North Dakota, many changes have had to be made to accommodate the overflow of traffic.


By Amy Wolff

For The DC Herald

Dunn County is working hard to take the proper steps to keep visitors and residents alike safe on the roads. Roads that were once only seeing 100 vehicles per week now have as many as 1,400 travelers on an average day alone.

The Dunn County Highway Department is at the head of this crucial maintenance for the wellbeing and safety of these travelers. This department includes three separate posts for housing the equipment used for the upkeep of their highways, one in Killdeer, another in Halliday and the most recently updated one being in Manning.

The original building in Manning was a mere 40 by 60 feet, providing only enough room to house 3 motor graters. Over the last few years, it became obvious that such a small building would no longer be sufficient. The sizable increase in traffic made for far greater and much faster wear on the highways.

Due to this factor, more employees were needed to keep up and more machinery in turn had to be purchased to meet their needs. As stated by the Dunn County Road Superintendent, Mike Zimmerman, “With more traffic you need more employees and more equipment to provide the same level of service as before and even then we still couldn’t keep up.” It was because of these expansions already implemented and the overwhelming need for further improvements in the department that the Dunn County Commission decided to move forward with this project.

Tracey Dolezal, the Dunn County Auditor explained that this expansion is critical to the area as it will help, “To meet the needs due to the oil impact [they] are experiencing.” An estimated $3 million was used to fund construction, with the funding provided by federal mineral royalty payments received by Dunn County. Ainsworth-Benning of Spearfish, South Dakota was contracted for the project and construction began in the summer of 2013. They reached completion November 2014 with only a few final touches remaining.

This new shop is 100 by 150 feet, allowing enough room for the department to store all of the machinery and equipment, as well as enough additional room for making repairs within the shop. Prior to this expansion, many of the county’s vehicles had to remain outside with no protection from the elements.

Because so much of the equipment currently in use is electronic, indoor storage is ideal for both the lifespan of the machines, as well as the convenience to which they can be used. Huge amounts of time can be easily wasted in attempting to start these machines in the negative temperatures that this region knows so well and when it comes to moments where the highway department is called to provide emergency services, time cannot be wasted.

The benefits of this expansion do not end with the highway department. The Dunn County Sheriff’s Department has also reaped its benefits. As it stands, the old building that they were previously using to house machinery has been transferred to the sheriff’s department’s use so that they too can better accommodate their growing needs during this time of growth and change.

It is the hopes of Zimmerman and his colleagues that eventually all three of the Dunn County Highway Department’s maintenance shops can be fully upgraded and expanded so that only the best service and assistance will be provided to their residents.

Amy Wolff is a freelance writer for the Dunn County Herald. She can be contacted through the N.D. Group Editor at bmartin@countrymedia.net.

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