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County Road 41 open again after being closed temporarily

Covering the pipe with fill is the last step before putting the cap on the road. Excavator operator Shane Bock dumps fill on both sides of the new culvert before covering the top. American Photo/Paula Bauman

The Beltrami County Highway Department closed part of County Road 41, north of Blackduck earlier this spring because of excessive spring runoff.

The runoff itself is nothing new to that stretch of road however, this year, it washed out the temporary culvert that had been put into place last September.

The road was closed in late September to replace a deteriorating 72-year-old culvert. According to Beltrami County Engineer Tyler Koos, the replacement last fall was to be temporary, as is the one just put in Tuesday.

Koos said county highway employees noticed last fall that a piece of the concrete had broken off the end of the culvert.

"Upon further inspection, we found significant cracks and made the decision to close the road to traffic until we could replace it," Koos said.

The culvert, which was installed in 1936, was no longer deemed safe for motorized traffic. Koos explained that the new culvert, a 4-foot pipe, is also temporary.

The county has applied for Federal Emergency Management Agency funds to help with other road projects, and they could use part of these funds to help replace the metal culvert with a new concrete box culvert, Koos said.

"It could take up to two months for notification and then a month to six weeks for replacing it. That's 3½ months and that's too long," he said.

Koos said he is hopeful that the county will get the FEMA funds it has applied for, and if not, he said state bridge bonding money would be available, but not until next spring sometime.

"We have put together a plan for a new culvert on County Road 41," Koos said. "It's just a matter of when we get the funding. Whether it's FEMA money or funding from the state bridge bonding money, we will get the project done."

The road would likely have to be widened, Koos explained. He figures that there is 1,000 feet of roadway that would have to be worked on. If the county gets the FEMA money soon, the county can let bids out for the work to be done and it can be completed sometime this fall.

"The soonest it could happen without the FEMA money would be next year," Koos said. "If we get the money from FEMA, work can begin sooner.

County highway department workers worked on the road Tuesday, making coffer dams around each end of where the culvert had been. They then hauled in fill, leveled it off and readied the space for the new pipe.

The new metal pipe was maneuvered into place then backfilled to stabilize it. Once this was done, all that remained was putting the road surface back together, packing fill over the new culvert and smoothing out the approach on either end of the workspace.

For now, the new culvert is in and the road is open for through traffic.