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Fix for busy Killdeer intersection proposed

DOT officials presented a roundabout idea (above) for the Highway 22 and Highway 200 intersection Wednesday at Killdeer City Hall.

KILLDEER -- A new concept for Killdeer traffic may help alleviate congestion and close calls at the increasingly busy Highway 22 and Highway 200 intersection.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation presented two ideas for the junction Wednesday evening at Killdeer City Hall.

"The last couple of years we have had increased traffic with the oil

activity," said Leon Eckroth, DOT design engineer. "It has lowered the level of service."

The intersection has been under review for years because of increased traffic related to an oil boom, Eckroth said.

As intersections are graded for handling traffic, Eckroth said the preferred level of service is C or above. The increase of traffic at the highways 22 and 200 intersection has dropped that grade.

"Right now, the intersection is operating at a level of C. If we don't do something now, it will drop down to a D or an E," Eckroth said. "That's not good because everything starts to fall apart."

Currently at the intersection, traffic moves in one lane in each direction. Eckroth said left-turning traffic is delayed. Accidents have increased and Eckroth warned that it could get worse as winter sets in.

According to the DOT, more than 6,400 vehicles entered the intersection per day in 2010. By 2030, that use is estimated to increase to more than 8,700 per day.

Proposals at the Wednesday meeting included the addition of turn lanes with a four-way stop sign or building a roundabout in the intersection.

The roundabout would direct traffic in a counterclockwise circle until it exits in the desired lane.

"(The roundabout) is the preferred concept based on the reports," Eckroth said. "It's a proven concept that works in other areas."

Roundabouts have been shown to increase traffic flow and to decrease

accidents, Eckroth said.

The cost of construction for a roundabout is estimated by the DOT to be between $1.2 million and $1.3 million, compared to an estimated cost of $1.55 million to turning lanes. Eckroth suggested that turning lanes might be a short-term fix.

"The turn lanes work, but they are not a long-term solution," Eckroth said. "Something else is going to have to be done."

Eckroth said the current conditions do not warrant traffic lights.

Killdeer resident Toody Haugen, who favored the roundabout proposal, said she uses the intersection frequently and said she has witnessed some "close calls."

"Some people don't stop there," said. "They go right in front of you."

She added that her daughter lives in North Bend, Wash., a city that has used roundabouts in intersections to success.

"That is a very efficient thing out there," Haugen said. "I realize what they are trying to get across here."

Monte Roshau, Killdeer street commissioner, said there were "good ideas" expressed at the meeting. He also favored the roundabout design, although he felt turning lanes could be effective.

"I don't think we have any solid idea yet," Roshau said. "We will be able to move forward with this road project whatever we decide to do."

Eckroth said motorists would need time to adjust to a roundabout, if it were installed.

"I think with the roundabout people are confused," Eckroth said. "There is probably going to be a learning curve with the traffic. I think once traffic goes through it once or twice drivers will get used to it."

The DOT plans to open bids for construction in March 2012.