Officials plan landslide fixesRecent landslides have affected at least four roads in the area and officials are formulating plans to remedy the issues.
Recent landslides have affected at least four roads in the area and officials are formulating plans to remedy the issues.
About 30 feet of earth from Sentinel Butte hill sits atop a portion of the road which accesses the top of the hill.
Golden Valley Emergency Manager Brenda Frieze said the vegetation on the portion of land that slid on top of the road stayed intact.
“It just looks like that’s the way it was, you know, for the last 200 years,” she said with a laugh. “You just drive up to the hill and can’t go any further.”
However, the road meandering out the other side of the hill shows it’s a recently created landmark.
The slide has cut off access to communication towers on top of Sentinel Butte hill, but Frieze said a four-wheeler could get a person there.
Golden Valley Road Foreman Pete Wirtzfeld said the easiest fix will likely be to relocate the road. Moving the road would likely cause more earth to move from as far as 100 feet up the steep slope, he added.
“It’s not a minor fix, it’s a major one,” Wirtzfeld said.
Attempting to dig the road out may be dangerous, he added.
“It’s probably going to move from here on out very slowly and I am sure that there will be some settling that will occur as the moisture dissipates from that slide and it shrinks and it will continue to shift for a time,” Wirtzfeld said. “I don’t think it’s going to be anything significant unless somebody gets to working in there and moving the material off the road. Then there will be a significant continuation of that slide.”
The details of who will help remedy the problem and when need to be worked out, he said.
“We’re just approaching it kind of cautiously, because we don’t want to overstep our authority with landowners and what not and get everybody involved that has an interest up there,” Wirtzfeld said. “The county and the state has shared in the maintenance of that road in the past and we’re not looking necessarily for the county to do it alone.”
A landslide has also taken a portion of Highway 85 near the Theodore Roosevelt National Park North Unit in McKenzie County from three lanes down to two.
“Actually, the park’s fence that goes along our right-of way is gone right there because the slide has taken it out,” said Joe Wilt, assistant Williston District engineer for the North Dakota Department of Transportation. “But if you look at the rest of the park on that north hill, all over that park it’s sliding.”
He expects the land to continue moving slightly, but said the highway is safe to drive on.
Traffic headed north of Killdeer on Highway 22 is still being diverted to Highway 85 since two landslides caused enough damage to close the road about three weeks ago, said Larry Gangl, DOT Dickinson district engineer.
“We’re looking at the options for a bypass to repair that to get traffic going again,” Gangl said.
Highway 8 south of Twin Buttes was closed three weeks ago due to a landslide, he added, and they are putting in a bypass.
Wilt does not expect to have to close Highway 85, but said if it does close, traffic will likely be diverted to Highway 16, which goes through Beach.