Concerned and curious alike packed into Richardton City Hall on Tues. March 30, for a special meeting regarding the street rehabilitation project. What they got was a clash of visions. Engineers from Short, Elliott and Hendrickson (SEH) Brandon Myran, Dan Hendrington and Scott Lange said they believed that the project could be handled with a milling and overlay, while Interstate Engineering’s Mark Limpert presented an opposing view of the difficulties the project faces.

Myran began his presentation to the commission for a mill, reclaim and overlay project which he estimated would cost around $6.2 million for construction, engineering, inspection and a chip seal. Chip sealing is a process by which the surface is sprayed with oil and covered with small rocks to improve the overall driving surface.

SEH’s numbers were not exact, Myran conceded as the process of surveying remains incomplete. He said surveying and designing, if chosen for the project, will begin around the spring-summer months of 2021, and with it a more precise total cost estimate.

All of this Myran said, can all be done before bidding takes place in the fall.

Myran’s presentation detailed a process that raised a slew of questions and some contentious back and forth between engineers.

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“Scott, may I ask a question, ‘what’s the design?’ Limpert asked.

“...We’re proposing a mill, reclaim and overlay,” Lange, SEH’s Senior Professional Engineer, reponded.

Limpert retorted that Richardton’s streets are not millable due to a lack of gravel underneath and water absorbing clay. He said unless the subbase is addressed, the streets will never be fully fixed.

Milling and overlaying would involve grinding the asphalt surface along with gravel and then placing it back onto the road.

According to a slideshow from The City Engineers Association of Minnesota, cities with strong foundational materials or subgrade and significant surface distresses are not adequate candidates for a mill and overlay project. They also recommend cement stabilization prior to doing any sort of reclamation project.

Myran responded that the E Street and Raider Road projects had been millable, to which a citizen replied that both streets are already suffering from structural problems and are breaking up.

As mentioned in a previous article, Limpert presented his design for a complete reconstruction and cement stabilization which he said he believes to be not only possible, but necessary. Limpert said his estimate had been based on actual bids made by contractors and not predicated on assumptions.

During the meeting nearly two weeks ago, Limpert gave his estimate for the project which was slightly over $5 million.

“I’ve spoken to contractors to validate my estimation numbers for a cement stabilized base,” Limpert said in a separate interview with The Press.

According to Limpert, he has already completed some surveying and has a design prepared which would involve cement stabilization and reclaiming.

Myran says cement stabilization, along with a full reconstruction, had been proposed back in 2019 with E Street and Raider Road, however, real-time bids exceeded the estimates.

“We planned for construction in 2019...we proposed two different designs to see what would be the best option...we had a cement stabilized base, reclaimed asphalt top,” Myran said.

Myran said as the project progressed, costs rose and ultimately exceeded their best estimates.

Following the presentation and back and forth debates on the subject, the matter was continued for a future commission meeting. No firm has been selected for the project officially, and additional details are expected to be presented at the meeting on Monday, April 12 at 6 p.m.