Traffic patterns, bypasses among questions at expressway meetingAn Amidon City Council member wonders what a bypass around her town will do to business if the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway project takes hold of the area.
By: KB Carter, The Dickinson Press
BELFIELD — An Amidon City Council member wonders what a bypass around her town will do to business if the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway project takes hold of the area.
She was among about 30 people gathered at the Belfield Memorial Hall Wednesday to learn and share input on the proposed project that will be a part of the Great Plains International Trade Corridor, designed to extend from Mexico to Canada, Project Manager Bob Shannon said.
The plan will impact Highway 85 and short-term plans include adding passing lanes as passing is a safety risk, Shannon said.
The long-term may include bypasses around small towns at slower speeds to accommodate truck drivers and tourists, he said.
Amidon City Council member Linda Narum strongly opposes bypasses. She feels the small towns along the way will suffer from decreased traffic if added.
“The same kind of thing happened over in Montana with their bypass system,” she said. “All the little towns along the way just kind of disappeared.”
The TR Expressway will begin in Rapid City, S.D. and run to the Port of Raymond at the Montana and Canadian border.
Most of the 188 miles of TR Expressway through North Dakota will run along the existing Highway 85, Shannon said. Highway 85 runs through Bowman, Amidon, Belfield, Fairfield, Watford City and Williston.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park Superintendent Valerie Naylor said she is concerned about the increase in traffic that could occur with the project.
Western North Dakota traffic is increasing due to the oil industry, said Jack Olson, North Dakota Department of Transportation assistant planning director.
“There will not be any more traffic, just safer traffic with what the current traffic patterns happen to be,” he said.
The purpose of the public input meetings is to gather comments of those directly affected by the expressway.
This is Phase 1 of planning. “We want to get an understanding of what is going to happen and what the needs of the corridor are going to be,” Shannon said. “Then we will provide this data to the NDDOT for consideration to add into their current improvement plans.”
Pending Congressional approval, $71.2 million is planned for road improvements along the TRE corridor between 2010 and 2014. This money will address immediate needs, including seal coats, asphalt overlays, turn lanes, shoulder widening and passing lanes.
A public meeting was also held Wednesday in Bowman regarding the project. Meetings are in Williston and Watford City today.