Editorial: Smoothing out bumps in the roadWhen is the last time you were in a conversation and someone mentioned how great a certain section of road is? Chances are never, or you don’t remember because when people talk about roads, they complain.
When is the last time you were in a conversation and someone mentioned how great a certain section of road is? Chances are never, or you don’t remember because when people talk about roads, they complain.
It’s time we give credit where credit is due. County and state road crews across the region have done a remarkable job this summer and fall trying to keep on top of not only planned construction, but a number of unexpected projects.
And it’s official, Highway 22 is open and hundreds of drivers are sighing relief. This includes truckers who have to take the route to make a living, residents north of the city who want an easy southern route to the interstate and leisurely travelers who have put off going north because it just sounded like too much of a hassle.
Drivers were forced to take alternate routes after heavy spring rain created landslides, wiping out big chunks of the highway. It’s the Badlands and can be expected, but it sure put a hitch in travel plans this year. Pictures show huge ruts up and down the road and without a jacked up off-road vehicle, it would not be traversable.
The Highway 22 opening saves tremendous time for many (along with gas money). However, chances are many people are agitated because it took so long, but given the circumstances, it really wasn’t that long at all.
The North Dakota Department of Transportation was going to create a temporary gravel road but paved it instead, said Project Manager Brad Riely of Martin Construction. This temporary asphalt surface will get drivers through the winter, but they should be prepared for more construction when the weather gets nice next year.
Planners expect the road to stay open in 2012 during follow-up construction as workers build passing and turning lanes, along with widening a section of the highway.
Another major north-south route, Highway 85, had to be repaired and cleaned up after landslides created blockades around the same time as those on Highway 22. That mess was also cleaned up fairly quickly.
Another summer project worth mentioning is a stretch of Interstate 94 near Richardton. Crews were up at dawn starting their earthmovers and flagging traffic. They were there until dusk getting in every bit of daylight they could to remake the road.
Standing in blazing sun, pouring rain and eating dust, dust and more dust is a challenge, but the flags and barriers are gone and now a smoother section of highway has appeared. Thank you.
Those who don’t like the roads in southwestern North Dakota may want to take a trip across the border to the west. There you will find something to really complain about.
The public can get a sneak peek of what’s in store for Highway 22, a bit south of the wash-outs when the DOT hosts an informational meeting to discuss proposed improvements from 29th Street in Dickinson to the Stark/Dunn county line. The meeting is 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 1, at Dickinson City Hall.
As always, it’s an ongoing struggle to keep roads operational and with this incredible increase in traffic due to oil activity, the fight to sustain thoroughfares will only get harder. On top of that, finding qualified help to do the work is also a major challenge.
Southwestern North Dakota is just a rig or two away from all of the headaches the state is experiencing further north, such as in the Williston area.
There will be bumps in the road and though drivers like to complain, these area upgrades have not gone unnoticed. Keep it up.
Publisher Harvey Brock and Managing Editor Jennifer McBride are on The Press Editorial Board.