Posted 4/28/10 (Wed)
By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer
McKenzie County is definitely booming. With new families, businesses, housing developments and oil wells, there is bound to be a lot of talk of changes throughout the county. With many plans in the works and even more ideas floating around, it’s difficult to know what is fact and what is fiction.
With road construction season in full swing, the McKenzie County Farmer was able to put a lid on one rumor that has had many people talking; the rumor of a Super 2 highway that would bypass Watford City, Alexander and Arnegard completely.
“A Super 2 highway from Williston to Watford City is in the planning stage,” says Joel Wilt, North Dakota Department of Transportation assistant district engineer. “However, there are no plans at all for the highway to bypass Watford City, Alexander or Arnegard.”
According to Wilt, the current plans for a Super 2 highway from Williston to Watford City include adding five, one-mile stretches of passing lanes in each direction. The plan includes a construction date of 2011, with the possibility that Highway 85 from Watford City to Grassy Butte could also be turned into a Super 2 highway during the summer of 2012. But that project hasn’t made it to the planning stage yet.
Construction projects have started on Highway 85 and the Long X Bridge, causing some delays and even the temporary closure of Highway 85 from Watford City to Grassy Butte.
Already started is a grading project that runs from seven miles north of Grassy Butte to the Long X Bridge. This project will remove the existing pavement and base and also straighten and widen the road.
“Construction has just started with fencing being put up and topsoil stripping,” adds Wilt. “Around a million cubic yards of soil will be moved during the project which will construct a climbing lane and straighten out the southbound highway. I anticipate 15 to 20-minute waits for the project, with flaggers and pilot vehicles. We’ll be monitoring the project closely to try and keep wait times as short as possible.”
At the intersection with Highway 200, road closed ahead and detour signs have been erected. But a detour would only occur if there is a major rock/dirt slide through the breaks. If that would happen vehicles would be detoured.
The project is expected to last until October 2010, when two strips of asphalt will be completed with a third layer being planned for 2011.
In conjunction with Highway 85 construction will be work on the Long X Bridge.
“The bridge will receive a deck overlay this summer,” adds Wilt. “This will be done one side at a time, with traffic lights at each end of the bridge to allow traffic to cross with minimal wait times.”
Although road construction is never fun to drive in, the finished project is usually worth the hassles and waits, especially if it makes area roads safer.