“I’ve Never Seen This Before” – The Kittson County Enterprise

Ice completely blocking culverts causes costly damage

By Anna Jauhola
A strange situation has developed in Poppleton Township northeast of Lancaster.
Kittson County Commissioners learned on Tuesday, April 19, that two concrete culverts were completely blocked by ice. This forced the water in the ditch to cross Township Road 68 and cause damage around the culverts. The township’s Dennis Anderson contacted the county about the situation, leading the highway department to get involved.
“Because we inspect township culverts and bridges, we went there,” said Keith Klegstad, assistant county engineer and bridge inspector. “It’s two 9 foot by 5 foot culverts on State Ditch 84. …I’ve never seen this before. It’s a solid block of ice 9 x 5 through and through. It doesn’t let any water through.
On Tuesday, April 12, the state authorized disaster declarations due to inclement weather that swept through the region. The commissioners approved Resolution 22-14, a disaster declaration for a severe weather incident. With state approval, the township will receive 75% reimbursement of damage and repair costs.
Since the ice in the culverts impedes water flow, it took other routes, including through the embankment where it washed aggregate around the pipe and possibly below. Klegstad said there were cracks in the road between the two pipes, which is a direct sign of an impending road collapse once the frost thaws.
Klegstad said half a mile south of the ditch is a water control structure operated by the Two Rivers Watershed District, which is used to release that water into the Two Rivers.
Poppleton Township officers closed the road on Thursday, April 14, placing barricades at each end. However, due to the severity, Klegstad notified the State Bridge Office, which recommended placing Type 3 barricades with flashing lights. These barricades are much more difficult to move and provide more security for the general public.
Klegstad said the township road sees local traffic, especially cattle ranchers, but is not a mail or bus route.
Although there is no estimated cost for the repairs, nor a specific plan, Klegstad said it will be significant.
“The riprap between the pipes has disappeared. It’s sunk. Backfill material is washed away,” he said.
He added that there is a similar set of culverts in St. Joseph Township to the north and that this freezing issue did not occur.
“We don’t know if this control structure (of the Two Rivers watershed) located half a mile downstream backed water into (the culvert) and froze. Or, we had hellish winds from one direction then the other, it could be clogged with snow,” Klegstad said. “It’s kind of weird because it didn’t freeze that way.”
In other cases, the committee:
• Approved the hiring of Amey Swenson as Accounting Clerk II in the Highways Department, filling the position vacated by Kris Thorlacius. Swenson is making a lateral move from the Tax Services Office to the Highways Department and will remain at the same salary and grade, which is currently subject to union negotiations. Once these are finalized, the expected wage will be $22.06 per hour. She will tentatively start in this position at the beginning of May.
• Approved the hiring of Jason Christian as Grader Operator to fill the position vacated by Dana Olson, who is now the Maintenance Foreman. This is a lateral move for Christian and he will keep the same salary of $25.17. His start date was officially Tuesday, April 19.
• Approved advertisement for a new grader position.
• Approved the low bid for countywide restriping from SIr Lines-A-Lot of Edina, Minnesota, for $64,680.95. It’s over budget by about $9,000, but county engineer Andrea Weleski said, “That’s going to be normal for all of our offerings.” Overall, this is what we see on all our contracts, which is unfortunate.
• Approval of bids from River in a Valley Farms for roadside mowing in five of the county’s seven mowed areas. It was the only bidder for the job and the cost is $58,535. The county budgeted $78,400 for mowing this summer, so the lowest bid is because no one offered to mow the northwest and midwest areas. Weleski said summer help from the highway department will likely be able to handle mowing those sections because it’s a single cut.
• Approved equipment leases, which are figures submitted for various items by a number of area contractors and used only when the county may need them, Weleski said. Commissioner Nathan Kraulik abstained from voting because his company, Kraulik Excavating, was one of the contractors on the list.
• Approval of Kittson County as the financial agent of the Kittson County Pioneer Snowmobile Club, specifically for trail maintenance.
• Approved the finalization of the County Tobacco Ordinance Amendment, which was to be open for public comment for 30 days. No one commented and the change in the legal age to purchase tobacco products went from 18 to 21.
• Approved assessor Heather Bruley’s request for a 2022 tax abatement for a homestead that should have been expanded. The abatement will reduce property taxes from $962 to $487.
• Reappointed Wayne Jacobson as County Veterans Services Officer for another four years.
• Approved moving the Forfeited Land Auction to Thursday, April 28 at 11:00 am. It was originally scheduled for Wednesday, April 13, but was canceled due to bad weather.
The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 3 at 9 a.m.

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