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NDDOT rep. visits Dunn County and offers help

MANNING — The North Dakota Department of Transportation’s liaison with the western, oil-impacted part of the state paid a visit to the Dunn County Commission on Wednesday.

Dave Leftwich visits county meetings and connects with local officials to serve as a conduit. He said with how quickly things change, the transportation department and counties needed quicker communication.

“Basically I’m here to help all the western oil counties, but the ones that have the most impact and the most questions and needs right now are the four major oil-producing counties,” Leftwich said in an interview, “and that’s Williams and Mountrail and Dunn and McKenzie, so that’s where I’m spending the bulk of my time.”

He said most of what he’s heard in his four weeks on the job is about money.

“What I’ve been hearing is everybody could use a little more money for some of their projects and they realize, you know, there’s only so much money available,” he said.

Road projects can cost more in the western part of the state because of the region’s cost of aggregate and labor.

“So the money doesn’t go as far as it does for the rest of the state,” Leftwich said.

Plus, western counties are building thicker roads to deal with heavy truck traffic.

Leftwich said the counties have been doing a good job of looking ahead with their planning, like for corridors for oil traffic.

Dunn County Road Superintendent Mike Zimmerman introduced Leftwich to Dunn County commissioners, who brought up various transportation concerns.

Commissioner Bob Kleemann brought up the high number of tanker trucks he’s seen in Dodge, and how dust and mud coming off trucks can obscure white road lines.

Leftwich said some good news is that with more pipelines going in, traffic in some areas is actually decreasing.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple and NDDOT Director Grant Levi appointed Leftwich in January, a couple months after he retired from the department after 39 years.

“With the increase in traffic and transportation needs it is imperative to work closely with local units of government,” Levi said in a statement last month.