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Published September 28, 2010, 12:00 AM

Highway 52 repairs could run $200,000

Authorities: Motorist drove on stretch undergoing work
It could cost $200,000 or more to fix portions of Clay County Highway 52 damaged when a pickup drove across recently resurfaced areas of the road this past weekend, a contractor said Monday.

By: Dave Roepke, INFORUM

It could cost $200,000 or more to fix portions of Clay County Highway 52 damaged when a pickup drove across recently resurfaced areas of the road this past weekend, a contractor said Monday.

Jason Zins, safety director for Shafer Contracting of Shafer, Minn., said he won’t know the cost of the repairs until a meeting with county and state officials on Wednesday. He said $200,000 is a conservative but rough estimate.

Clay County authorities believe Austin Nieland, 21, of St. Cloud, Minn., moved a barricade sometime early Saturday to drive on a stretch of the highway being reconstructed, said Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist.

An eight-mile stretch of the road is being rehabilitated, and Zins said the portion damaged had just been treated with a curing compound that strengthens the concrete. That curing was finished by about 8:30 p.m. on Friday, he said.

About four hours later, Clay County deputies think Nieland drove on the road, traveling less than a mile before striking a piece of pavement machinery at the intersection of Highway 52 and County Highway 10.

Deputies said Saturday that Nieland admitted he was drinking alcohol prior to the crash, but Bergquist declined to say if he’ll face alcohol-related charges. No charges were filed in Clay County District Court as of Monday.

Nieland had contact with deputies Saturday morning before the crash was found by construction workers at about 5:30 a.m.

After responding to a call about a suspicious man in the 8600 block of 80th Street South at 1:06 a.m., deputies sent Nieland to a local hospital with minor injuries, Bergquist said. The area was searched for his vehicle, but deputies didn’t find his truck, he said.

A phone number for Nieland couldn’t be found.

Zins said the bulk of the repair costs will be fixing the road, so the final bill will depend on how much of the damaged pavement highway officials want the contractors to replace.

Phone messages left on Monday for Clay County Engineer David Overbo weren’t returned.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535

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