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Dickinson infrastructure must grow: Planning project suggests it will take millions to help city keep up with population growth

The "Roadmap to the Future" is almost complete. The year-plus planning project conducted by Kadrmas, Lee and Jackson on behalf of the city of Dickinson will wrap up next month and is expected to be approved in January.

Representatives from KLJ presented "Dickinson 2035: Roadmap to the Future" to a group of about 25 city leaders and interested parties at the Biesiot Activities Center on the Dickinson State University campus on Thursday.

"Dickinson is growing, I'm sure you've seen it," said KLJ representative Thomas McMurtry, who is based out of the firm's Bismarck office. "The city is at about 20,000 to 24,000 people today, We're planning on it going to about 40,000 to 42,000 over the next 20 years, but the bulk of that growth is in the next 10 (years)."

Infrastructure was the focus of Thursday's public input meeting.


The amount of cars on the road in Dickinson has spiked just as the population of the city has, which can create some areas of concern, especially where traffic flow is concerned, McMurtry said.

"Historically you've been able to drive through town with little to no congestion," he said. "But now congestion has been growing, it's not overcapacity ... but there's now a car in front of you and a car behind you. There's just more cars on the road."

The city has a dozen traffic lights and could easily support a dozen more, McMurtry said.

"The projects that we have identified for widening roads, building new roads, adding signals, improving certain areas, we can basically build the city to this level to the next 30 years ... and get to a level of service and lifestyle that's very similar to what you experience today."

The projected cost to create an open traffic flow in the city is around $500 million, he said.


Dickinson has about nine miles of trails throughout the city. By the end of the planning period in 2035, it will have spent $7 million on an additional 40 miles of trail, McMurtry said.

"The trail system has got some gaps," he said. "We've got a lot of pieces of trails around the parks, but they don't necessarily connect and it's a little bit difficult to use them to navigate through town."

Many of the trails will be added as the roads are improved, McMurtry said.


Dickinson needs more water pressure, bigger water mains and at least two more water towers in each pressure zone to keep up, KLJ representative Scott Pickett said.

"Water storage is important in case the power goes out and the pumps can't run, you can draw off those water tanks," he said.

Once the new water treatment facility is online, the city will be able to change the way it uses water, Pickett said.

"Under most scenarios, the city will be able to have an adequate water supply to accommodate the future of growth," he said. "But those also involve water restrictions."


The existing system, which was designed for 24,000 people, is reaching capacity, McMurtry said.

"It was largely built in the '80s and was built to last about 30 years," he said. "We're hitting the point of the capacity of the existing sewer system."

In the plan, KLJ identified about $45 million worth of needed improvements to the existing sewer system.

"Almost all of this is needed up front," McMurtry said. "As the first development comes in, you can't add 10 percent of a pipe. You have to put the whole pipe in the ground."

Of other concern

Victor J. Mahony and Ben Deeble, along with Mathew Reichert, represented the Walton property south of the Roers Development west of town. Their land has yet to be annexed into the city, and annexation was not addressed by the KLJ representatives at the "Roadmap" meeting.

The final "Dickinson 2035: Roadmap to the Future" meeting is Nov. 15 at 5 p.m. at the Biesiot Activities Center. After that, it will go to the City Commission, which is expected to approve it in January, pending public comment.

To submit comments, email or write Bob Shannon at or Bob Shannon - Project Manager KLJ, P.O. Box 1157, Bismarck, N.D. 58502 or through

Comments will be accepted through Dec. 15.

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.  
(701) 456-1206