Posted 4/15/14 (Tue)
By Stephanie Norman
Farmer Staff Writer
The state of North Dakota is dishing out nearly $800 million by the end of 2014 for roadway projects in the Bakken.
Last week, Governor Jack Dalrymple, North Dakota Department of Transportation Director Grant Levi, along with other state and local leaders appeared in Alexander for the Alexander Truck Bypass ground-breaking ceremony.
“We are committed to continuing to address the impacts of rapid growth in western North Dakota, and a key part of those efforts is to ensure that the region’s roadways are safe and the truck traffic on its Main Street is reduced,” Dalrymple said. “The most important projects need to be at the top of our list. This one in Alexander is important. We are all pleased to see this project going through.”
Traffic reports show that nearly 12,000 vehicles pass through Alexander on U.S. Highway 85 each day. It’s safe to say that approximately 2,000 of those are semi-trucks, according to Dalrymple.
The two lane highway through Alexander slows to 25 mph at the heart of the town for safety, although on some occasions, vehicles have been reported to be traveling at speeds reaching 58 mph, according to the April 6, Speed Summary Report.
“When we get this all done, people will enjoy a nice road trip without having to worry if they’re going to get run over,” Senator Bill Bowman said.
From 2010 to 2012, there was a 53 percent increase in traffic through Alexander, Levi said, and it’s only increased since then.
The new 3.7 mile long bypass will re-route U.S. Highway 85 traffic to the west of Alexander, enhancing the quality of life and safety on Main Street.
“We shouldn’t have to wait 10 minutes to cross the street in Alexander just to get our mail,” Mayor Jerry Hatter said. “Now that we direct the traffic out of downtown, we can hopefully get the small town atmosphere back. From a city standpoint, I am pretty excited about this bypass.”
“It’s unrealistic to expect any town to handle the amount of traffic going through Alexander,” Dalrymple said. “This investment in Alexander and the U.S. 85 corridor will bring many transportation improvements to the area.”
Costing $28 million, the project will accommodate four lanes of traffic and is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2014.
“Some of us can’t even relate to the dollar amounts anymore,” Dalrymple said. “Even though we have great resources available, they can be depleted quite quickly.”
The state of North Dakota is investing nearly $2.6 billion into the state’s oil and gas region during the current biennium.
Other roadway projects underway include the Watford City Southeast Bypass, a New Town Bypass, and a Williston Truck Reliever Route. Other projects began last year include the four-lane project on U.S. Highway 85 between Williston and Watford City, and the Watford City Southwest Bypass.
Levi reminds people to slow down in these construction zones.
“On a 10 mile stretch, if you slow down by 10 mph, you’re only wasting 75 extra seconds, but you may be saving the life of a worker or even your own life.”