Major infrastructure replacement project to launch this spring in Larimore, N.D.

Ann Bailey, Grand Forks Herald
·3 min read

Feb. 23—LARIMORE, N.D. — A project to update aging infrastructure in Larimore will get underway this spring.

Phase 1 of the infrastructure replacement project, expected to take two to three years, will begin when the ground thaws, likely in April, said Dean Elfman, Larimore's mayor.

JR Civil, a heavy contracting company based in Sheridan, Wyo., will replace Larimore's water and sewer lines, storm sewers, and curbs and gutters during the first phase of the project. It is estimated Phase 1 will cost $14.16 million, Elfman said.

Some of the infrastructure that will be replaced is more than 100 years old, Elfman said.

"We've got some lead lines, we've got steel lines. Some of the sewer lines are clay, or whatever they had back then," he said.

Plans to replace Larimore's infrastructure have long been considered, but have been thwarted by lack of funding. Twenty-five years ago, the Grand Forks engineering firm AE2S drafted a master plan to replace the infrastructure, but the city of Larimore didn't have the funds to pay for the project, so it did not go forward. In 2016, AE2S updated the infrastructure master plan, and the next year completed a preliminary engineering report for citywide utility improvements.

The engineering firm completed the final design and bid the project in 2018. However, the city rejected the contractors' bids that were submitted, deciding instead to pursue additional funding before starting the project. In 2019 Larimore hired AE2S for financial and operator assistance in pursuing grant funding, assisting with implementation of special assessments, decommissioning the city's water district and connecting to rural water.

Now, instead of using its own water plant, East Central Regional Water District supplies water to the city.

Since 2018, Larimore has received grant money, including $360,000 from the North Dakota Clean State Revolving Fund and $4 million from the North Dakota Water Commission, to help fund the project. The city also used a $111,357 Community Block Grant to finance replacement of Larimore's hydrants.

Meanwhile, the city is financing the infrastructure project with money it set aside and with revenue from a 1% city sales tax increase, approved in 2018.

The infrastructure project is expected to save the city money in the long run by reducing water loss, Elfman said. Leaking water lines are costing the city from $40,000 to $50,000 annually, he said.

"We're losing roughly 2 million gallons of water a month. About half of the water we're buying, we're losing. It's not getting billed out," Elfman said.

Repairing the aging storm sewer system also will benefit the city by eliminating flooding in front of the businesses on Towner Avenue, Larimore's main street, and other areas where water backs up during spring snowmelt and when heavy rains fall.

The infrastructure replacement project will begin at the north end of Larimore and proceed south, and then branch off to side streets, Elfman said.

While the project is underway, most of Larimore's streets will be gravel. JR Civil will grind up the asphalt that is removed during the infrastructure project and spread gravel on the streets.

During Phase 2 of the project JR Civil will apply asphalt to the streets.