North Dakota fines Minnesota construction firm for breaking 2 utility lines
BISMARCK — North Dakota has fined a Minnesota construction company $5,000 for breaking two underground utility lines in separate construction projects.
Two complaints against Wagner Construction, a construction outfit based in International Falls, Minn., but working in North Dakota, were brought before the North Dakota Public Service Commission on Wednesday, Aug. 5, by Commissioner Brian Kroshus.
According Kroshus' motion, Wagner broke two utility lines in separate construction projects in Watford City and Minot. Both complaints were submitted to the state through North Dakota One Call, a hotline for submitting digging violations on construction sites.
The Minot violation was reported by the Midco cable provider in June of 2020 in response to a broken fiber-optic line that affected Midco customers and caused more than $34,000 in damages.
The Watford City violation was reported to One Call by Montana Dakota Utilities in August of 2019 in response to a broken natural gas line that resulted in less than $1,000 in damages.
North Dakota's One Call policy was instituted to ensure adherence to safety precautions around hazardous utility lines near construction sites, and the state has administered tens of thousands of dollars in fines through the policy over the last few years.
"We have been more aggressive the past several years in terms of fine amounts, and we have seen a decrease in the number of line hits over that same period of time," Kroshus said. "So stricter, tougher enforcement I think is paying dividends in terms of line hits."
Wagner Construction acknowledged both violations and agreed to pay the $5,000 fine.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Adam Willis, a Report for America corps member, at firstname.lastname@example.org.