Highway of relief: Dalrymple, local leaders touts Dickinson interim bypass
It’s been open to the public for a while now, but the interim bypass connecting Highway 22 and Interstate 94 received its official induction ceremony Wednesday at a ribbon-cutting attended by Gov. Jack Dalrymple and other city and state officials.
The 5-mile-long truck bypass took about a year to build and cost $40 million, but Dalrymple said such “very, very large investments” around western North Dakota are necessary.
“We’re making good progress, but we also know that the needs that lie ahead are tremendous,” the Republican governor said. “Overall, you know that it is just one piece of what we can expect from the incredible economic development that’s taking place around here. You know that much more investment in infrastructure to come.”
The state-funded project will cost a total of $129 million once the $60 million permanent bypass and $29 million interchange are completed. The North Dakota Department of Transportation estimates construction will begin on the permanent bypass late next summer, adding an additional five miles to the project.
An estimated 25,000 vehicles pass through Dickinson every day, but even if trucks can be diverted onto the bypass, “it makes a huge difference,” Dalrymple said. “It’s obviously providing a tremendous amount of relief to travel in the city.”
Sen. Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, who was a part of the 2013 legislative session that passed a bill making $720 million available for highway and road improvement projects, said Wednesday that he “couldn’t wait” to have the bypass around.
The bypass is just one of about $1.6 billion in projects bid during the 2013-14 construction season, DOT Director Grant Levi said. A total of $409 million went toward bypass routes in Williston, Watford City, Dickinson, New Town and Alexander; a permanent bypass is being planned for Killdeer.
Dickinson Mayor Dennis Johnson said that while similar projects have been a challenge for some of the city’s sister communities, “this one went off very smoothly with very little controversy and very little hassle.”
He attributed the process to the city’s Comprehensive Plan, which officials drafted two years ago. A major component of the plan was improving transportation infrastructure.
“This is the first step in that plan,” he said.
An overpass on State Avenue over the railroad tracks is in the early engineering stages.