June 2020
Virus hits North Dakota!
That’s the constant buzz that the NDLTAP team has heard from local leaders all across the state this spring.  Kerry Johnson, Barnes County Road Superintendent, notes that “ Road Virus - 20 has created the worst conditions my county has ever seen. Roadway failures and frost boils are everywhere, causing us to close roads.”

Kerry's not alone. Why is this "road virus" flaring up this year? 

To find the answer, let’s back up a bit. Last year was a cool, wet year. The October blizzard saturated soils that had any remaining moisture storage capacity. That set the stage for us to see unprecedented roadway problems. Saturated roadway subgrades, combined with frost coming out, led to the pandemic of roadway problems.

Water is the villain that creates our road problems. Combine water with roadway materials that lack desired engineering properties to "weather the storm" and look out. Flooding can mean flowing water, which displaces road section materials and can lead to road washouts. Culverts without manufactured or earthen seepage collars that are exposed to water pressure will experience material transfer. Essentially that means that the pipe backfill material will wash out alongside the pipe, with failure quickly following. 

Prairie potholes and waffle-style section line water storage fill the roadway ditches with water. That water saturates the road bed. But what about the water near the top of the hill? Can water run uphill? The rules of science have not changed; what we are experiencing is saturated soils that want to drain. Water will follow the path of least resistance to exit. That means a sand or silt layer will provide the means for water to exit, even near the top of a hill. 

But why are conditions worse in the spring?  Because water and cold temperatures in our area do mix--into ice cubes. Great video to watch on frost impact to roadways can be found on the NDLTAP Webpage, https://www.ndltap.org/resources/asphalt.php – bottom link, MnDOT: Frost Damage in Pavement. 

Add freezing temperatures to these saturated poor roadway subgrade soils and our roadways heave, creating a lift and at times frost boils.

As these areas thaw, it’s like walking on a bog. The soils are flooded with water; mud and water combine into a structure with near zero load carrying capacity. 

Another way to look at subgrade materials and their engineering properties is to look at the adjacent field. Since most county and township roads are built with the materials from the ditch (i.e., mucker road) rather than quality engineering materials, our roads will mirror the adjacent field’s strength. Can’t drive in the field? Your roadway will also suffer carrying capacity issues. Topping the subgrades on our roadways will be a gravel or asphalt surface. Gravel without clay will allow water into the subgrade. Cracked up asphalt will do the same. Wet subgrades can result in failed and closed roads. 

Surfacing layer thickness is also a key factor. Surfacing layers are most often thin and not built to "bridge" or carry loads during frost-out conditions which are made worse in years like this when our soils are saturated.

All that said, local roads are in trouble.  Is there a cure? The short-term cure is time; time for the water to exit the subgrade so that the roadway can heal. Reducing load limits or closing a road for a few weeks can save a road. 

In the long term, it’s our combined effort to develop and finance a level of service build plan that balances roadway improvements with available tax dollars. 

Together, we can work through Road Virus – 20.   

Frost heave and frost boils
By Matt Kurle
Materials and Research, NDDOT

Frost action is a detriment to the roadways in North Dakota. Frost heaving occurs in roadways that contain subgrade materials that are susceptible to frost. Typically, roadways with embankment consisting of silty clay or silty material are most susceptible. For frost heaving to occur, the materials underneath the roadway need a source of water. As the subgrade freezes, the frost action pulls water from the water table, up through the frost-susceptible soil via capillary action, to the frost line. These frost lenses cause the soil to heave upward resulting in movement of the materials above.

Frost Heave
In the winter months, roadways may experience differential movement. This occurs when adjacent soils have different frost heaving characteristics. Abrupt soil changes can lead to areas where one soil undergoes frost heaving and the other soil does not. When this happens, bumps or even abrupt cracking can form in the pavement. Frost heaving occurs most commonly on NDDOT roadways at cut/fill transitions or at culvert installations.

Frost Boil
As the frost comes out of the ground, the ice lenses begin to melt from the top down, leaving a frost layer of frozen soil below the thawing line for a period of time. This frozen layer below the thawing line does not allow water to drain out of the subgrade and leads to a period when the base and subgrade is saturated and in a highly weakened state. As traffic travels over the roadway the surface becomes damaged due to insufficient support from the underlying materials. This phenomenon is typically referred to as a frost boil. As the base and subgrade drain the moisture after the subgrade has completely thawed, the base and subgrade will eventually come back to a state that can handle the traffic loads.

Frost action occurs on a yearly basis in North Dakota. This spring there has been an unusually high amount of spring roadway damage. The fall flooding that had been experienced could have negatively affected the roadways' ability to resist the detrimental effects of frost in the following ways:
               
1.   The significant amount of moisture in the fall raised the elevation of the water table enough that the frost heaving action could occur in locations that were not usually susceptible to frost heaving. (The higher water table became close enough to the frost line that frost heaving could occur when inmost years the distance from frost line to water table is too great).

2.    The fall flooding increased the in-situ moisture content of the existing roadway embankments to a level much higher than at which they typically enter winter. Then as frost heaving occurs in the winter even more moisture is pulled into the embankment. The result is an even higher than normal level of oversaturation during the spring thaw period.

Photo courtesy of Athabasca County website, Athabasca County, Alberta, Canada.
NDLTAP hiring to provide
enhanced outreach in ND oil counties
join_our_team_sign.jpg
NDLTAP and its parent organization, the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute at NDSU are on the verge of launching a new NDLTAP outreach effort in North Dakota's four big oil counties (Dunn, McKenzie, Williams and Mountrail) in partnership with NDDOT.  We will be hiring two team members, one full-time and one half-time, to work in the Big Four region. This program is scheduled to run through the end of 2024.

The full-time benefited position will be based in the NDDOT office in Williston and will lead an effort to help the counties plan and enhance their regional efforts and transportation investments. Download a full position description . Earlier this month, NDLTAP shared plans for the position with some of the city, county, township, tribal, and association leaders in the region. View the 30-minute recording .

The part-time position is the Western North Dakota Local Government Advocate. This boots-on-the-ground position could be filled by an engineering tech, contractor, civil engineer, construction management grad, planner, or someone with transportation-related field experience who has a desire to help our western leaders and make a positive impact. The individual in this position will help with the Wise Road Weather Station and Toward 365 project, participate in council meetings, assist with project and regional planning, help with the Geographic Roadway Inventory Tool (GRIT) data entry, share best practices and engage in other activities that fit the applicant's strengths and the needs of local governments in the region.
 
Both positions are being funded by the NDDOT in an effort to support and advocate for the challenges that face our western oil country local roadway leaders, recognizing that the synergistic efforts of these leaders can grow our business climate through an enhanced roadway network. 
 
For more info, contact Dale Heglund at 701-318-6893 or dale.heglund@ndsu.edu .
Bengtson joins UGPTI/NDLTAP as pavement and bridge engineer

Kelly Bengtson joined UGPTI February 26 as a pavement and bridge engineer. He will assist UGPTI with road and bridge investment needs studies, asset management efforts, and technical assistance to local units of government through NDLTAP.

Bengtson, a native of Hallock, MN, has been the Kittson County, MN, Engineer since 1997. Located in the northwest corner of the state, Kittson County is typically one of the top 10 agricultural production counties in Minnesota for tons of annually grown crops, which puts significant demand on its infrastructure. During Bengtson's time there, the Kittson County Highway Department delivered more than $60 million in road and bridge construction projects, $25 million in road and bridge maintenance, and $8 million in Red River flood damage repair work. The Highway Department has four front office people, four technicians, and 12 maintenance workers/equipment operators. The department covers 365 state-aid highway miles and 90 miles of local county roads.

Bengtson was also drainage engineer for the County Drainage Authority, which was responsible for 260 miles of legal drainage ditches. Before joining Kittson County, Bengtson was district manager of the Kittson Soil and Water Conservation District for 12 years. He started his career as a product engineer with Deere & Company. Bengtson attended NDSU, where he earned his bachelor of engineering degree.
ND Asphalt Conference canceled
In the interest of health and safety, the ND Asphalt Conference was canceled for 2020. Unfortunately, we missed the opportunity to recognize and share the innovative efforts that are being used in the state, to share new technologies, to recognize ride award winners and to learn new ways to improve. Our conference theme was "Learn - Evolve - Implement and SUCCEED." Our hope is that you imbed that theme into all that you do. We look forward to seeing you at the 2021 conference in April. Until then, you can review the presentation archives from previous conferences .
Williams County shows benefits of staged construction
Building roads in phases, also known as staged construction, is a great option for building quality roads while also managing funding, according to Williams County Highway Superintendent Dennis Nelson. Nelson outlined Williams County's approach to staged construction in an article in the ND Association of Counties' newspaper, County News. Williams County Communications Officer Lindsay Harriman assisted in developing the article.

"Roadway network improvements can often be tackled best through phased construction. In these uncertain times, phased construction makes sense." NDLTAP director Dale Heglund noted in the article. "It spreads the investment needs over several years, key criteria for counties as they navigate through the uncertainties of funding in markets like we are currently experiencing. Williams County is a role model for staged construction, a fundamental, long-term network planning tool.

Read the entire article on page 8 of the May/June issue of County News , or download a copy of the article .
Williams County's Nelson named
Superintendent of the Year
Dennis Nelson, Williams County Highway Superintendent, was recognized as the 2020 Superintendent of the Year by the ND Association of County Engineers. The award recognizes Nelson's outstanding service and dedication to his profession and organization. Nelson has been in Williston for 15 years, initially working for the city as a surveyor and project inspector. He became Williams County Highway Superintendent in 2005 and currently oversees about 40 employees. Nelson and his crew struggled to maintain the county's road system during the Oil Boom, employing innovative approaches and setting priorities to make the most of stretched resources. Read more about Nelson in this story on the award fromthe Williston Herald .

Each year, NDLTAP helps to host an annual "Road Day" in the Superintendent of the Year's county. The Williams County Road Day is scheduled for August 6.
Update on UGPTI's legislative road needs study
As part of the 2019‐2021 Legislative Road Needs Study, UGPTI, in conjunction with NDToA, surveyed North Dakota’s roughly 1,300 organized townships. The survey was designed to obtain information on graveling and blading costs as well as to compare and contrast maintenance practices across the state. The response from township officials was tremendous with 71% of the surveys completed, surpassing the 2016 survey by nearly 300 responses. The information provided in the survey responses is being used to inform legislative leaders as part of the ongoing needs study which will provide an estimate of the 20‐year funding needs to maintain North Dakota’s county, township and tribal roads and bridges. In addition, the responses provide invaluable data to describe variations in costs and practices across different regions of the state. Thank you to all of those who responded to the survey; and special thanks to Larry Syverson, who promoted the survey in the NDTOA newsletter and made it available via the organization’s website. The draft report of the needs study will be available in July at www.ugpti.org

This article, written by UGPTI's Alan Dybing, originally appeared in the ND Township Association's newsletter, The Grassroots Report .
Lamoure County revives the sand seal
Gerard Feist, NDLTAP asphalt expert, joined the Lamoure County crew last fall to aid in the revival of the sand seal. Gerard was impressed by the county crew’s efforts and their ability to adapt from a normal chip seal to a sand seal. “Great crew and quality end product. Kudos to Lamoure County,” he said.

Josh Loegering, Lamoure County Engineer, wanted to try a sand seal in an effort to find a new pavement preservation tool for some of his low-volume paved roads, an effort that better utilizes aggregate sources.  Here’s his project synopsis: “We did a total of 9.5 miles of sand seal on County Road 35 between U.S. Highway 281 and the City of Jud. We used CRS2P (emulsified asphalt) at a rate of 0.17 gallons/square yard. To get a better spray pattern we turned off every other nozzle on the spray bar. The sand was applied at a rate of 25 lbs/square yard with a chip spreader. The sand was very wet, so to make sure it came out of the trucks into the chip spreader without bridging, we removed the tail gates.
 
“Rolling was done exactly the same way we do our chip seals (two pneumatic rollers). After a few weeks we swept the entire project twice to remove the excess sand. A fog seal using CSS1H (slow-setting emulsified asphalt) diluted to 50% was applied on the entire project at a rate of 0.105 gallons/square yard. Pavement markings were installed after about a week.
 
"Prior to the sand seal, we crack leveled six miles of the project. Overall, the ride was greatly improved and I think it turned out very well for our first sand seal in over 30 years.”
 
“Some years back, sand seals got a bad rap," Feist noted. "Oil flushing led to loss of skid resistance. Today, we have different oils to choose from and options to allow sand seals to perform well. Our hat is off to Lamoure County for getting us back into sand seals. Their use means that we use less oil and a less valuable pit material to preserve our roadways. Sand seals are a great tool in any low-volume road program.”
County Township Design Standards and other local road resources at NDLTAP's website

We hope that the NDLTAP website is your one-stop shop for all local roadway info and a serves as a valuable tool for you and your team. The " Local Road Standards and Resources " page provides several helpful items including links to local roads conferences and resources for improving local road safety. Looking for local road standards? The County Township Design Standards provide a minimum targeted value for local roadway designs.
NDLTAP promotes Brown and Miller
NDLTAP is pleased to announce team growth and changes as Denise Brown recently transitioned from training coordinator to program manager and Amanda Miller transitioned from administrative assistant to program assistant. Their new titles and duties better reflect their contributions and roles on our team. Congratulations Denise and Amanda!
Brown has been with NDLTAP since 2007. She coordinates and develops training for NDLTAP customers and makes sure their staffs are receiving the training they need and desire. Brown helps market NDLTAP training opportunities on a local, state and national level. The job title change gives her more hands-on work with the budget and more detailed work on the programs NDLTAP administers to assure those programs fit customers' needs. Brown also supervises most of the part-time and contract workers, making sure we are on task with our annual work plan
Miller joined NDLTAP last year. As program assistant, she assists with all of the numerous details of the LTAP program. Before joining NDLTAP, Miller worked for NDSU Nursing at Sanford Health in Bismarck, ND, as well as at Bismarck State College.
Horner steps down as director for TLN
Tim Horner, a close collaborator with NDLTAP and director of UGPTI's Transportation Learning Network, is moving to part-time hourly status as he transitions toward full retirement. He has spent the last 10 years with TLN, setting program direction, cultivating partnerships and assuring the network's training offerings met the needs of transportation agencies and professionals. Often the programs of TLN and NDLTAP overlapped and Horner's extensive background in transportation engineering was a huge asset to NDLTAP.

Horner plans to continue working with UGPTI on special projects and legislative issues. Before joining UGPTI, Horner spent 33 years with NDDOT. Chris Padilla is new director of TLN. He has been with TLN since 2013, serving as associate director.
 
Often, subject matter and training topics for TLN and the NDLTAP overlap significantly as can be seen in this recent poster for TLN. Under Tim Horner's leadership, the Transportation Learning Network became a trusted partner with NDLTAP creating synergy for both programs. We expect that partnership to continue to flourish under Chris Padilla's guidance.
Road Crew Happenings
by Leanna Emmer
NDLTAP Technical Support Representative

The public may not fully appreciate the exceptional service that our road crews provide. "Road Crew Happenings" is an opportunity for us to highlight a few of their many efforts.   

All in a day's work in Bottineau County

On November 5 and 6, 2018, I had the opportunity to join Ritch Gimbel, Bottineau County Road Superintendent and his crew at 16 th Avenue NW in Chatfield Township where they were in the final steps of installing a double 9 foot by 8 foot concrete culvert. The week before, the crew prepped the location for the culvert installation.

Next to the new culvert are two 60-inch corrugated culverts. The culverts were installed several years ago (2005). Unfortunately, they are unable to handle the spring melt-off and the high water flow on the Cut Bank Creek, which resulted in the roadway washing out four times in the past 10 years (2009, 2011, 2014, 2017). As a result, this project qualified and received FEMA funding in part for the culvert.

It was obvious that Ritch and his crew are a cohesive team, ribbing each other while working diligently to set 14 culvert sections (using a crane and bobcat), like huge Legos. The work is hard and the weather was cold, windy, and blustery. 

Gimbel and his crew have history of going above and beyond to provide a safe and efficient roadway network. The season for their box culvert and bridge installations is only hindered by a couple months of harsh winter weather. The Chatfield box culvert is an example of how they are replacing more structures by extending their construction window. Not easy, with water issues, freezing temperatures, and other difficulties of early spring and late fall work. This project is a testament to the crew’s efforts to do more. In March, NDLTAP shared stories of success with the Bottineau County Commissioners.

Bottineau County road crew members on this project were Ritch Gimbel, Darrel Keller, Bud LaRocque, Jamey Brown, Scott Moen, James Condit, Sean Hahn and Tim Condit.
Glasoe leads effort to improve weather monitoring for transportation in the Bakken
NDLTAP Circuit Rider Curt Glasoe is leading NDLTAP efforts to implement an innovative weather monitoring system that aims to minimize weather-related disruptions in the oil industry and protect roads for other users. Wise Roads (Weather Information System to Effectively Reduce Oilfield Delays and Disruptions) was implemented last year to monitor weather and provide more accurate localized weather information in the Bakken oil producing region. The project is a partnership of the Western Dakota Energy Association (WDEA), the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network (NDAWN) at NDSU, and NDLTAP.

In phase one, 10 test sites were installed. Phase two is ongoing, with the goal of 15 more Wise Roads weather stations. In total, 50 sites are funded and will continue to be installed as time permits, hopefully in 2020. Each station costs approximately $10,000.

“It isn’t cheap, but if you have to shut down the industry due to poor conditions, that would be even more expensive, and then everyone has to get involved,” Glasoe says. “We want to go as long as we can without having to reconstruct the roads.”

The project was featured in the Spring 2020 issue of Basin Bits , the official publication of the WDEA. See page 20.

On May 20 and 21, Curt and NDLTAP's Leanna Emmer collected road data for the Wise Roads weather station road probes, which will be installed later this month. Each road will have four probes. The probes will measure each roadbed's moisture content at 6 inches, and, 2, 4, and 6 feet. The stations are located in Williams (Epping), Mountrail (Powers Lake), McKenzie (Hawkeye), and Dunn (Medicine Hole) counties.

The data collected included measuring of the road template: road top, shoulder, ditch and access to the weather stations. In addition, the surfacing depth was collected at six different places along the road cross section. Gravel samples were collected for sieve analysis and P.I. testing. Road crown and approach grades were measured along with a surfacing float measurement at each site.

Traffic was substantial at two of the four sites with over 40 vehicles, including numerous tractor-trailers passing the site in a one-hour period. The traffic was mostly pickups but numerous semi-trailers were also witnessed during this short time frame, while collecting the above data.
Klimpel steps back from motor grader training
For the past two years, Russ Klimpel provided exceptional training on operating motor graders to operators across the state. Russ is stepping back from training activities to focus on other life priorities. He is an exceptional operator and instructor and NDLTAP will miss his experience and expertise and his willingness to help other operators.

In addition to providing training for NDLTAP, Russ is on the Mountrail County road crew. Before joining Mountrail County seven years ago, Russ spent seven years rebuilding highways in North Dakota and 10 years building forest service roads for Montana. He was able to focus all of that experience on making other operators better. Thank you, Russ!

For his exceptional service and dedication to training motor grader operators across the state of North Dakota from 2018 to 2019, Russ has been added to the NDLTAP instructor wall of fame.
Sign warriors continue the battle
Roger Parrow, Cass County Sign Foreman, thought that he had seen it all, but found a new low in sign vandalism. Crazy as it sounds, vandals actually placed shooting targets on a county bridge end marker. Not only are the vandals destroying public property, running the risk of stray bullet impacts, they are also eliminating a critical driver visual cue.  Without that key sign, a vehicle could plunge off of the bridge end and drop into the channel. At that point, vehicle damage would be the least issue to worry about.

As sign lead, Roger recently shared a tip. When signing a detour, it is a good idea to look at the full network. Watch where the locals are going to avoid the construction and detour and then consider additional temporary signage on those routes.  Always improving and always sharing lessons from the road – thanks Roger!

Photo of Roger Parrow courtesy of April Baumgarten, The Forum.
GRIT has a Facebook page!
GRIT now has a Facebook page! Recently, the GRIT Champions Facebook Page Steering Committee had its first meeting via Zoom. The team brought ideas, thoughts, and suggestions on how to best use Facebook to encourage North Dakota counties and cities to tap into GRIT. The GRIT Facebook page is another resource for counties and cities to share how their asset management work ties into GRIT, how easy it is use, and the benefits. Watch for tips and tricks that make data collection and entry into GRIT easy. Find the page at https://www.facebook.com/GeographicRoadwayInventoryTool.

Team members are from seven counties, UGPTI and NDLTAP staff: Kitty Showers, Traill; Todd Miller, Stark; Devin Johnson, Pembina; Cindy Glover and Dawn Tschetter, McKenzie; Pete Wirtzfeld, Golden Valley; Chris Opsahl, McIntosh; Terry Johnston, Cavalier; Brad Wentz and Dustin Ulmer, UGPTI; Dale Heglund, Denise Brown, Kelly Bengtson and Leanna Emmer, NDLTAP. Contact Leanna Emmer or Kelly Bengtson at NDLTAP. We are here for you!
NDDOT seeks public input for long-range planning effort

The North Dakota DOT is embarking on a unique planning project, tapping into the public to chart the course for our state’s transportation network in 2045. Stewart Milakovic, NDDOT Transportation Planner, is leading the charge and is excited that their public meetings have started. He is looking for a broad range of public input and would like to meet with as many people and groups as possible this summer. Information on how to participate can be found at www.transportationconnection.org or by contacting the Stewart and the DOT team at 701-328-2500 or connect@transportationconnection.org
How can soybean planting this spring help our local roadway network? 
The NDLTAP/UGPTI/NDSU team actively seeks opportunities to help grow North Dakota.  Efforts with the North Dakota Soybean Council have sprouted in a couple areas; dust palliatives and bridges. 

 Reducing dust. For the past three years, NDLTAP has supported NDSU researcher Jim Bahr’s efforts to develop, test, and, hopefully soon, market a soy-based dust palliative and asphalt rejuvenating agent. We look forward to the day that we can use locally grown, renewable and environmentally friendly products to improve our local roadways. Better, safer roads with soy; NDSU is leading the way. Check out an article by Kelly Bengtson, NDLTAP/UGPTI Road and Bridge Engineer, for a product update .  If you missed the 2019 North Dakota Road Conference, check out Jim’s presentation     

So how can soybeans help bridges?  The Soy Transportation Coalition recently investigated bridge load ratings, and is currently embarking on a marketing effort to compile a list of economic methods to repair and/or replace deficient low-volume road bridges. This marketing tool will be used to help educate funding decision-makers and to share success stories with our roadway leaders in an effort to encourage innovative solutions that will improve our bridge network.

Soybeans helping roadways grow, who would have guessed? Stay tuned as Kelly provides additional updates on our findings on these exciting projects.

Below: Researchers developed a dust monitoring and measuring device to compare the dust reducing properties of a soy-based product compared to calcium chloride.
Plans underway for 35th annual Local Road Conference in Rapid City Oct. 21-22
Plan to bring a friend or neighbor to the 35th annual Local Road Conference, Oct. 21-22 in Rapid City, SD. The preliminary agenda calls for sessions on team building, conflict resolution, and achieving customer service excellence. Of course there will be plenty of technical presentations including sessions on pavement maintenance strategies, gravel production and gravel roads, daytime sign inspection, mower safety and more. Interaction and sharing of ideas is always a highlight along with the "You Show Us!" contest. Watch for more information coming soon.
Upcoming conferences:
 
  • Local Roads Conference, October 21-22 in Rapid City.
On behalf of the NDLTAP team,

Thank you!
Our Mission

To foster safe, efficient, environmentally sound, and cost effective North Dakota highway, road, and street systems by exchanging transportation technology with North Dakota's local units of government and transportation community through training, technical assistance, and information services as part of the US FHWA's nationwide LTAP network.
Contact us @ NDLTAP 515 1/2 E Broadway, Ste 101, Bismarck ND 58501 -
(701) 328-9855 or ndltap@ugpti.org

NDLTAP Newsletter editor is UGPTI Communications Coordinator Tom Jirik
Contact Tom at thomas.jirik@ndsu.edu
NDSU does not discriminate in its programs and activities on the basis of age, color, gender expression/identity, genetic information, marital status, national origin, participation in lawful off-campus activity, physical or mental disability, pregnancy, public assistance status, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, spousal relationship to current employee, or veteran status, as applicable. Direct inquiries to: Vice Provost, Title IX/ADA Coordinator, Old Main 201, 701-231-7708, ndsu.eoaa@ndsu.edu .