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Four-laning of Highway 85 from Watford to Alexander to be completed by fall

Posted 7/22/14 (Tue)

By Stephanie Allums
Farmer Staff Writer

North Dakota is currently undergoing a record amount of road construction across the state. The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) will have performed nearly $800 million in road construction by the end of 2014.
According to Katie Pizza, with the Williston District of the NDDOT, the U.S. Highway 85 Four-Lane Project between Watford City and Williston, the two Watford City bypasses and the Alexander Bypass are just a few of the many projects currently underway within the western portion of the state.
“The NDDOT is undertaking these projects to address the transportation needs of a growing population and traffic increase,” Pizza said. “We will be constructing one of our largest programs in state history with over $500 million being bid out this year in western North Dakota alone.”
Phase One of the four-lane Highway 85 project, from Watford City to County Road 16, is projected to be complete by fall 2014. Currently, speeds have been reduced while road work continues.
Phase Two of this project, from County Road 16 to Williston - including the Lewis & Clark Bridge, was put out for bid on July 15. The highway portion of Phase Two is scheduled for completion in 2015. But the Lewis & Clark Bridge isn’t slated for completion until 2016.
Prior to awarding the contract, the NDDOT will conduct a general review that includes analyzing project cost numbers and checking bond capabilities, Pizza explained. Pending a successful outcome, the contract will be awarded and executed within a two to three-week period.
As of last week, the apparent low bid for the Lewis & Clark Bridge was $66.3 million, submitted by the Texas Johnson Brothers Corp. And the apparent high bid was $79 million submitted by the Wisconsin-based Lunda Construction Co., according to Pizza.
For the remainder of the Highway 85 project, Phase Two, Minnesota’s Central Specialties’ apparent low bid was $36 million, and Northern Improvement Co. of Fargo’s apparent high bid was $43 million, Pizza said.
Overall, the four-lane Highway 85 project is estimated at $300 million.
“We are happy to be able to move forward on this project to enhance traffic movement in the Williston area,” NDDOT Director Grant Levi stated.
Other projects in McKenzie County that are slated for completion by the end of the year include the Watford City Southeast Bypass, the Watford City Southwest Bypass and the Alexander Bypass.
The Southeast Bypass extends 5.7 miles, costing approximately $50.3 million. It was bid in March and is to be complete by fall.
In October of last year, the Southwest Bypass was bid at $72 million, and it is to be complete by fall as well. It will be roughly 7.6 miles long.
The 3.7-mile long Alexander Bypass will cost nearly $28 million. It was bid in February and is to be finished by the end of the year.
Each biennium, the Legislature meets and allocates money to the NDDOT for state projects.
“For the 2013-2015 biennium, the state designated approximately $2.3 billion to rebuild and repair state highways, and city, county and township roads in every region of the state,” Pizza said.
As long as the weather continues to allow road construction to take place, the NDDOT should be able to stay right on track with their tentative completion schedules.
“It’s been a pretty light summer,” Pizza said. “There hasn’t been a lot of rain. We hope to keep moving forward to meet completion dates.”
The NDDOT reminds motorists to slow down, allow extra distance between vehicles, and to use caution and obey flaggers and posted signs.