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Better with a bypass: Killdeer opens new Highway 22 truck bypass west of city

KILLDEER--Sandy Schaefer grew up in Killdeer. She remembers the times where walking across Central Avenue, which also happens to be a portion of North Dakota Highway 22, was nearly impossible as truck after truck sped through downtown.

Killdeer Mayor Chuck Muscha speaks during a ceremony to open the new truck bypass outside of Killdeer on Wednesday afternoon. (Press Photo by Sydney Mook)
Killdeer Mayor Chuck Muscha speaks during a ceremony to open the new truck bypass outside of Killdeer on Wednesday afternoon. (Press Photo by Sydney Mook)
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KILLDEER-Sandy Schaefer grew up in Killdeer. She remembers the times where walking across Central Avenue, which also happens to be a portion of North Dakota Highway 22, was nearly impossible as truck after truck sped through downtown.

Now she has the opportunity to be a part of a brand new stretch of road where those trucks can now go around the town, rather than through it.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation opened a new bypass located just west of Killdeer on Wednesday afternoon with many state and local officials present for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the road for public use.

The two-lane bypass is nearly 4 miles long, with roundabouts at each end that connect with N.D. Highway 200 to the south and N.D. Highway 22 at the north end of the project. Construction began in July 2015 at an approximate cost of $30 million of state funding.

North Dakota Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, said the completion of the truck bypass means the roads will now be safer for everyone.

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"I remember when grandpa and granny couldn't walk across the street to get their mail because they were stuck on one side," Wardner said. "... This is going to be a great day for the city of Killdeer."

Schaefer said the city used to have a Fourth of July parade downtown, but it had to be moved because of all the traffic. She said the addition of the bypass is good for both safety and the condition of the road.

"I was one of them that he said used to go to the post office-a little grandma standing on one side of the street because you can't get to the other side and it was terrible," she said. "... It's (the new bypass) really nice."

But, the project started long before any roadworkers ever showed up.

Sandy Schaefer and her husband, Dave, sold a 2-mile stretch of their land close to Highway 200. They first heard about the project in 2011, but to see it all finally come together about five years later is exciting.

NDDOT Director Grant Levi said the addition of the bypass and roundabouts will help reduce high-speed crashes, improve the flow of traffic, increase traffic capacity and will have the ability to accommodate vehicles and trucks of all sizes.

Levi also said the increase in traffic from about 2,000 vehicles per day in the early 2000s to about 10,000 vehicles at the height of the oil boom meant it was time to help improve the roadways around Killdeer.

"This project will help enhance the quality of life and restore it in the city of Killdeer," Levi said. "It provides opportunity for children to walk across the roadway by taking some of that traffic out of the community and moving it onto the bypass."

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The Schaefers said they are excited to use the new bypass, especially since it can sometimes be difficult for them to use the dirt roads after it rains. They hope others will also utilize the new road, rather than drive through their property to get where they are going.

"We can use the bypass now to get through to the pasture before it was coming up and over the hills," Dave Schaefer said. "It was rough because that section line was really, really muddy along that section so you couldn't go through. ... It's nice now."

The NDDOT has been working with local officials in western North Dakota to complete bypass routes around the communities of Killdeer, Williston, Watford City, Alexander, New Town and Dickinson over the past few years. In total, the state has invested approximately $420 million on the construction of these truck bypasses and truck routes.

Levi said since 2011, the state has invested $2.3 billion in one-time state funding for state highways, which allowed the NDDOT to expand existing roadways, build new bridges, construct bypass routes and improve safety for the traveling public.

Related Topics: KILLDEERRICH WARDNER
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