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NDDOT closing five rest areas to help offset $69.2M shortfall

BISMARCK - North Dakota Department of Transportation Director Grant Levi outlined steps the agency will take to offset a $69.2 million revenue shortfall on Tuesday, including shuttering five of the state's 28 rest areas, holding 20 jobs open and ...

BISMARCK – North Dakota Department of Transportation Director Grant Levi outlined steps the agency will take to offset a $69.2 million revenue shortfall on Tuesday, including shuttering five of the state’s 28 rest areas, holding 20 jobs open and cutting back on temporary employees.

Rest areas at Norwich, Finnish, Germantown, Pleasant Lake and Sykeston will close in the north-central and northeast parts of the state, saving $70,000 in annual operating costs and the bigger costs of updating the aging facilities, Levi told the Legislature’s interim Transportation Committee.

The $69.2 million shortfall for 2015-17 is projected in the agency’s state transportation user revenues, which are derived from fuel taxes, vehicle registration fees and truck regulatory fees. The money supports DOT operations including the driver’s license division, maintenance work, salaries and state match for federal projects.

A decline in traffic has accompanied the downturn in the state’s oil industry, and Levi said DOT officials became concerned in November that revenues were falling short of budget projections.

As a result, counties, cities, townships and local transit systems also will see $31.3 million less than expected from the state highway tax distribution fund in 2015-17.

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“Our partners are experiencing the same challenges,” he said.

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