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Study to look at four lanes for U.S. 85 south of Watford

Posted 8/05/15 (Wed)

By Amy Robinson
Farmer Staff Writer

The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT), in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), is evaluating the four-laning along approximately 67 miles of U.S. Highway 85 from the south side of Watford City to Interstate 94 near Belfield, N.D.
The project would consist of widening the roadway and either rehabilitation or replacement of the Long X Bridge over the Little Missouri River. At the present time, a study of the corridor will take place to evaluate different alternatives and the feasibility of construction in widening the highway in this area.
“I am relieved to see the study phase beginning,” says Watford City Mayor Brent Sanford. “This has been a long time coming. Community officials want to see a four-lane divided roadway similar to Highway 83 from Bismarck to Minot. With a new, safe, four-lane Long X Bridge, anything less would be settling for a quick fix.”
Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson, Inc. (KLJ) is under contract with the NDDOT to complete the environmental study, preliminary engineering, and surveying for the proposed project. As part of this work, they will be conducting a topographic survey, wetland delineation, cultural resource survey, and noise measurements.
Most studies and surveys will take place within a half-mile of the current highway; however, there will be a need for crews to access section and quarter-section corners up to one mile outside the highway right-of-way.
The area of survey and study does not represent the alignment or needed right-of-way of the proposed improvements, but will be necessary to complete the study for the environmental document and allow the FHWA to make decisions on the most appropriate corridor based on the alternatives studied.
“Leadership in the community has pushed for a four-lane connection south for years,” says Gene Veeder, executive director for the McKenzie County Job Development Authority. “The Long X Bridge has been one of the pinch points in that project. We have witnessed how the closing of that bridge can negatively affect commerce in the community. Conducting this study is part of the process to move those improvements forward.”
Field studies and surveys will begin the beginning of August and continue through the fall/winter of 2015, depending on the weather and the time constraints set for certain studies and areas.
For anyone that has questions or concerns, contact Nici Meyer at 701-250-5951 or nici.meyer@kljeng.com. Future public input meetings will be conducted to provide additional information on the project and to gather input.