AS I SE EIT
By Neal A. Shipman
North Dakota has five seasons when it comes to traveling up and down the state’s highway system. There’s the four that we all know, which are spring, summer, fall and winter. But then there is the fifth, which is probably one of the most irritating seasons, the road construction season.
Unlike the normal seasons of the year, which are somewhat divided into four three-month segments, road construction season in North Dakota can be a grueling six to nine months. How long motorists have to deal with the length of road construction season depends as much on the scope of the road project, and of course, on how much the other natural seasons of the year cooperate.
And for motorists in McKenzie County, road construction season is now in full force as the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) is working on two major road projects that will create traffic delays.
The first project, which is now in its third year of construction is the four-laning of U.S. Highway 85 from Watford City to Williston. One portion of the project, the four-laning of that highway from Watford City to north of Alexander was opened to traffic last year. But highway work has now resumed on the remainder of U.S. 85 from north of Alexander to Williston. In addition, preliminary work has begun on the construction of a new four-lane bridge across the Missouri River.
The second major project being undertaken by the NDDOT is the widening and resurfacing of N.D. 23 east of Watford City to the junction of N.D. 23 and N.D. 73 at Johnson Corners, as well as the construction of a roundabout at that junction.
Both of these NDDOT projects will constitute significant traffic delays when people endeavor to travel north on Highway 85 and east on N.D. 23. While there are not shortcuts or back roads to avoid the construction on U.S. 85, motorists in the Watford City area do have an option to miss all of the construction on N.D. Highway 23 if their destination is New Town or further to the east. To avoid that long construction zone, motorists simply need to go north of Watford City on N.D. Highway 1806 and then take McKenzie County Road 10 east until it connects with N.D. 23 north of Keene.
But for those that find themselves stuck in slow-moving traffic as they travel through road construction zones, please remember to follow a few safety tips that will not only ensure your safety, but the safety of other motorists and construction workers.
• Slow down when approaching all work zones.
• Follow posted speed limits, especially within construction zones, and try to maintain a consistent speed with the traffic flow.
• Leave adequate braking room between your vehicle and the one ahead of you. And keep a safe distance between your vehicle and traffic barriers, trucks, construction equipment and workers.
• Don’t pass on the shoulder or drive across the median. This creates a very dangerous situation for you, construction workers and other motorists -- not to mention a steep fine.
• Keep calm and don’t rush. Remember, the temporary inconvenience of a construction zone will pay off with greatly improved roads soon.
• Pay attention and avoid cell phone or radio distractions.
• Expect delays and, if necessary, leave a bit earlier so that you can arrive at your destination on time.
The road improvements that are being made will improve traffic safety. We just have to put up with a little inconvenience while the work is being done.