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Dickinson City Commission can't decide on State Avenue overpass recommendation

The Dickinson City Commission could not decide which option would be best for businesses affected by the State Avenue railroad overpass bridge during a special meeting Tuesday at City Hall.

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The North Dakota Department of Transportation expected a recommendation from the city this morning, but after a tie vote Tuesday evening, it will have to wait until the issue comes up for a vote again at its regular meeting on Monday.

“The only decision we are making tonight is the decision between what most of you have seen as the Option 1 and Option 5 alternates,” Commission Vice President Gene Jackson said, who was filling in for absent Commission President Dennis Johnson. “We know there are other issues out there still. We’re going to have to keep working on those with the DOT.”

The special meeting was one last chance for businesses and residents, who filled the seats at City Hall, to voice their opinion about two final options to grant alternative access to businesses blocked off because of the planned elevation on State Avenue.

Option 1 would create access to the west of the businesses, including UPS, Pizza Hut and the Break Forth Bible Church. Option 5 would use access from behind for the businesses on the north and extended Hollywood Boulevard to flow under the proposed overpass to access businesses from the south. The options had been modified slightly since Jan. 6, the last meeting at which the overpass was discussed.

“I understand you can’t make a change to the city this big without anybody being affected,” said Mike Fisher, owner of Dickinson Ready Mix, one of the affected businesses. “But Option 1 concerns me where it comes in deeper into the Ready Mix yard.”

Fisher is in favor of Option 5.

Because Option 5 would possibly take industrial traffic through a residential area, those living there did not support it.

“After that road is built, it’s a road and it can be used by anybody that has a reason to go over there, even if they don’t have a reason,” resident Jackie Martin said.

No matter what option is chosen, some businesses would be equally affected. The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy will lose its drive-thru, owner Mike Ollerman said.

“Option 1 or Option 5 really doesn’t change for me,” Pizza Hut owner Bob Hein said.

Commissioners Gene Jackson and Klayton Oltmanns were for Option 1, which would create access to the west of the businesses, including UPS, Pizza Hut and the Break Forth Bible Church. Commissioners Shirley Dukart and Carson Steiner voted no on the motion for Option 1. Option 5 was not voted on.

The vote ended in a tie because Johnson was not in attendance. The issue will come to a vote again at Monday’s commission meeting with Johnson representing the tiebreaking vote.

“I would like to have the full board here, myself,” Steiner said.

There will not be a public hearing accompanying Monday’s vote. The state Department of Transportation has final say in the option chosen, but gives weight to the commission’s decision.

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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