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Dunn County plans road agreement with oil companies

Press Photo by Lisa Miller Dunn County Road Superintendent Mike Zimmerman and Commission Chairman Daryl Dukart explain how they plan to work with oil companies in the area to maintain shared roads and keep them safe.

MANNING -- Dunn County Commission Chairman Daryl Dukart and Auditor Reinhard Hauck say oil companies are doing their part to take care of roads and they want to keep that relationship going. They plan to do this by devising a road maintenance plan, they said at a special conference Thursday morning at the Dunn County Courthouse.

County officials say the discussions with companies about working together to keep roads safe and maintained have gone well.

"The oil companies are stepping up financially and many are also doing in kind work for the county including gravel hauling, maintenance work and helping with dust control efforts," Dukart said. "They see the problem too and want to be proactive in keeping the shared roads safe and useable."

The county hopes to sit down with the companies this winter to create a road use agreement which may transfer the responsibility of maintaining certain roads, removing snow, repairing damage and returning the roads back to their original condition at least in part to the companies.

The agreement may also set up truck routes or designated haul roads in an effort to minimize damage, maximize safety and clear up confusion about which roads are public, which are private, and which are suitable for truck traffic, Dunn County's Road Superintendent Mike Zimmerman said.

Hauk said the county has not made an agreement like this in the past because "A lot of things developed faster than we could manage."

He added in the beginning stages of a recent oil boom in the area, Dunn County had only a few oil rigs and most were in the same general area so only a few roads were used. But now energy activity has spread out all over the county meaning more roads are being traveled.

County officials agreed adding they don't blame energy companies entirely for the damage but say the big trucks, increased traffic and service vehicles have taken a toll.

"This agreement isn't meant to deter energy development in the area or shut anybody down, it comes down to safety issues," Dukart said.

Zimmerman said working together to maximize efforts will benefit both parties and the residents of Dunn County.

"Having an agreement just better organizes the effort and creates a team," Zimmerman said. "It's never too late, (to try and solve a problem) saying its too late just allows problems, issues or concerns to continue it doesn't solve anything or help us plan for the future."