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Bowman-Slope county road project on hold

BOWMAN -- A road improvement project winding through Bowman and Slope counties will be re-planned after Bowman County Commission members and adjacent landowners could not come to an agreement during a meeting Monday at the Bowman County Courthouse.

The Kelner East Road project was slated to be completed this year, Brosz Engineering representative Gary Brennan said, but changes make that unlikely.

The project was to widen curves and re-grade a road that runs through the northern part of Bowman County and portions of Slope County.

The project could not carry forward without easement agreements from the landowners.

"Most of the curves fall into Slope County, so we don't have any jurisdiction," Bowman County commissioner Ken Steiner said, adding that rerouting at this point would cost nearly $260,000 and was hard to justify because it is taxpayers' dollars.

About eight people attended the public project discussion part of the meeting.

Slope County landowner Ted Dilse said he was not notified that his land would be affected until the project was being surveyed and that he would prefer the project to steer clear because it would adversely affect his cropland.

"Projects like this affect the soil for years," Dilse said.

Brennan said the existing route couldn't be moved because the road is near a creek and it is hazardous to get too close.

Commission members discussed deterring the creek, but Bowman County Highway Superintendent Neil Hofland said the Army Corp of Engineers would likely decline the proposition.

Dilse said that he was concerned about getting a reasonable price for the land in the easement.

"We want fair market value and won't take anything less," he said, adding that similar projects were offering $600 per acre and that was far less than what his land was worth.

Steiner said those prices were offered to landowners in other parts of the county and that each landowner would be assessed individually.

Brennan said the existing route could be widened, but it would not be graded for the speeds he was anticipating with the proposed plan.

Commission Chairman Lynn Brackel said the issue must be tabled until there was further investigation of the easement compensation and the cost to improve the road as it is routed now.