With resolutions passed, letters of protest coming in and a bidding process about to begin, Engineer Mark Limpert of Interstate Engineering presented his design and cost analysis to the Richardton City Council at its March 16 meeting.

After an in-depth study, Limpert concluded that Richardton’s streets are cracking due to being built on unstable foundations nearly 40 years ago. The roads in Richardton consist of fatty clay and asphalt, which in turn have made the streets vulnerable with the varying weather conditions.

“Three years ago, I was talking about doing cement stabilizing... We started digging holes throughout the town, figuring asphalt depths, figuring out what was underneath that asphalt, (then) realizing that there’s not a lot of gravel down there if any," Limpert said. "... Roads are (now) no longer pavement... They’re actually turning back into gravel streets."

Milling and overlaying had been previously proposed by the Richardton City Council as a cure for the city's street-related issues. However, with the current base layer being unstable, Limpert said milling would be untenable. He instead recommended using a machine called a reclaimer to pulverize the asphalt and clay to a depth of 16 inches and blend the two materials together along with some cement powder and water. After a few days, the mixture should harden, creating what Limpert said would be stable enough to pave with two 1.5 inch lifts of asphalt.

“You’re going to have a little bit of an elevated road, the drainage is going to be fixed and we’ve got it all put together in a design and an estimate,” Limpert said.

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Limpert said his firm has currently spent over 120 hours of both time and money, trying to get a precise estimate for Richardton and he is confident his estimate will match the project’s real total cost which is estimated at approximately $5.2 million with contingencies.

Commissioner Kevin Remington said the total cost of the project had been estimated at $6.3 million with contingencies by the city’s current engineering company, Short Elliott and Hendrickson, Inc.

As mentioned in a previous article, this project has been slated to bring with it a slight hike in taxes. During the meeting, Remington said the city will not begin collecting taxes on the special assessments until late in 2022 and early 2023. He also figured that on average, property owners would be paying anywhere from $60 to $80 in additional taxes.

Property owners are currently paying on a special assessment regarding what has proven to be a controversial sewer lagoon project. Remington addressed this concern, noting that he believes the two specials will not overlap.

“The plan would be, when you get your tax bill late in '23. That’s where they’d pop up, which again was another thing that came out in the letter,” Remington said. “There’s, I believe, two years of sewer specials, those would basically be cleaned up... worst case scenario, you’d have one year where you’re paying lagoon specials... I don’t believe that’s going to happen. I believe they’ll roll from one to the next.”

The Richardton City Council will discuss more on taxes at its next meeting at 6 p.m. March 30 at City Hall.