Dickinson bypass location upsets landowners

Tom and Donna Dukart live just south of Interstate 94 on 116th Avenue Southwest, but that might change when the construction of Exit 56 begins next spring.

Bypass area
A semitruck pulls up to the corner of 33rd Street Southwest and 113th Avenue Southwest in rural Dickinson on Friday. The North Dakota Department of Transportation hopes to begin paving 113th Avenue this summer as part of the reliever route connecting Interstate 94 and Highway 22.

Tom and Donna Dukart live just south of Interstate 94 on 116th Avenue Southwest, but that might change when the construction of Exit 56 begins next spring.

The Dukarts may have to move if the new exit is built according to plans -- an off-ramp is mapped to go straight through their yard.

"Everybody else, it's just the road's going by their place," Tom said. "It ain't like it's going to come into their yard. Me, it's going to be a little tough walking to my barn, especially if there's trucks running through the middle of it."

Traveling between Belfield and Killdeer -- two oil activity hubs in southwest North Dakota -- will be much quicker in a few years upon completion of the Dickinson bypass, a route that connects I-94 to Highway 22, traversing through the countryside, avoiding much of the city of Dickinson.

The new exit will be created where 116th Avenue Southwest meets I-94. The road will head north before making a gradual curve, meeting 33rd Street Southwest.


The project will be built in multiple phases, the first being the creation of a reliever route between I-94 at Exit 59 and 33rd Street Southwest, along what is 113th Avenue Southwest in Stark County and 30th Avenue West in the city.

"The state is moving forward with the interim bypass project," said Rick Stoppelmoor, HDR Engineer Inc., project manager. "We are going to start designing (Exit 56) for the interchange part of the ultimate bypass. The rest of the bypass funding has not been identified yet."

Because the funding hasn't come through for all parts of the bypass project, there is no set completion date, Stoppelmoor said.

What will get done is the paving of 30th Avenue West to 33rd Street Southwest, and, if weather and funding allow, begin paving work on 33rd Street between 30th Avenue and Highway 22.

Many residents along 33rd Street Southwest told the North Dakota Department of Transportation and HDR, the engineering firm designing the project, during the comment period that they were upset at the location of the bypass, wishing it be moved 1 mile north to 32nd Street Southwest.

The residents in that area called, wrote, emailed and made suggestions on comment cards during a meeting on Feb. 21.

"We live in the subdivision along 33rd Street and would ask that the truck route not be in front of our property for the most selfish of reasons," wrote Kevin and Cyndee Schmidt. "We value our privacy, the beauty of the landscape and the opportunity that our grandchildren can come out to play in our yard in a reasonable amount of safety and quiet.

"Cyndee and I believe the best route would be to take the route out to 32nd past the Stallion facility, which gives the best option for the growth of the city in the long run, keeping truck traffic as far away from residential as possible."


Another resident was worried about the drivers.

"My husband and I bought this home 13 years ago because of the peace and quiet and now there is a five-lane highway a quarter-mile to the west of us and the possibility of a truck route 300 yards from our front door," wrote Duffy Nodland.

"I am writing to ask that another location be considered. Why wouldn't you consider one mile to the north of us as the truck bypass since this is an industrial area already? Why are you considering bypassing 300 yards from a residential area? There are many children who live along this road and I just do not trust that the drivers of these trucks will take that into consideration. I see them pass my house today, even though it isn't a truck bypass, they are going at least 50 miles an hour in a 35 zone. Please, please find another route."

Safety precautions will be taken along the route, which is planned to be a 65-mph zone, Stoppelmoor said.

"The normal safety things will be in place," he said. "There will be no additional sound walls or anything in place, but it's been designed to current time standards."

As the city moves west, the area up to Exit 56 could develop from rural Dickinson to Dickinson. West Ridge, the Roers development, is planned to eventually grow out to 116th Avenue Southwest.

Paving of the reliever route, 113th Avenue Southwest/30th Avenue West will be bid in June and work will begin later this summer.

"Right of way is being acquired through the normal process by following the Uniform Acquisition Act," Stoppelmoor said. "Right-of-way negotiations are ongoing."


The Dukarts have surveyors on their land planning Exit 56, which may force them to leave the farm.

"They just walk around the yard here every day, surveying -- they've been doing that since December," Tom said. "And I ask them, they say nothing. 'We don't know.'"

Finally, one surveyor told the Dukarts the interchange would cross through their farm.

"I was hoping -- the first map showed that they were right on the other side -- that they were going to take out my trees and maybe my barn and I probably could have lived with that, but when they're bringing it that close -- no," Tom said.

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