Posted 9/16/09 (Wed)
By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer
If you traveled east out of Watford City this spring or summer, it was probably easy to see that the long winter coupled with added traffic was very hard on U.S. Highway 23 east of Watford City. The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) also noticed that the road was in rough shape, so it was put on the list of repair work to complete before winter.
“We are putting on a structural overlay from Watford City to the junction of Highway 22,” says Joel Wilt, NDDOT assistant district engineer. “The overlay will consist of two 1½-inch lifts.”
Essentially, when the road work is completed, the road will be like new. Most people will tell you that the finished product will be worth the hassle. But others, especially those who travel this route on a daily basis may say that the rutted up road was better than encountering delays due to the construction.
In the beginning of the project, cars could be seen lined up from the golf course back to the Good Shepherd Home waiting for a pilot car to lead them across. But as the project progressed, the construction crew got a better handle on the traffic and worked towards a wait time of no more than 10 minutes.
“At various times during the day, traffic flow on that highway sees major increases, which caused the problem of cars being backed up farther than we would like to see,” says Wilt. “We want to make sure that cars see the construction signs and that traffic keeps flowing, so now we make adjustments throughout the day to make sure that the wait is 10 minutes or less.”
Even though the wait is less than 10 minutes, traveling through construction isn’t fun. So many drivers have begun taking the Tobacco Gardens turn and using Highway 1806 to divert from the road construction altogether.
“Highway 1806 isn’t a road that is maintained for the kind of traffic that Highway 23 sees everyday, but while we are working on Highway 23 we are happy to see people using 1806,” states Wilt. “The construction on Highway 23 isn’t going to last long enough for us to have concerns over the added use of Highway 1806 and when people go around the construction it is better for everyone involved.”
Whether you’re tolerating the construction on Highway 23 or altering your route and going around it, according to Wilt, things should be back to normal by the end of September. Of course, that is if the weather permits.