It’s going to be a summer of road detours
By Amy Robinson
Farmer Staff Writer
McKenzie County motorists have probably had to figure out new routes to get to and from work, home, and the grocery store with all the road projects currently underway this summer. Both the city and the county have big projects taking place that have literally forced drivers to find their way through a life-sized maze of roads and detours.
The City of Watford City currently has four big projects on the books: the 4th Avenue project in conjunction with the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT), the Pressure Zone Improvement Projects (to include five different areas around town), a new roadway from 4th Avenue at 5th Street to County Road 35, and the underground utility work on 12th Street that will serve the new Law Enforcement Center.
“Our big project is the DOT project - 4th Avenue,” says Todd Kelley, Watford City engineer. “It’s the new road construction project and it will cost about $4.3 million. The city is paying for this project with the surge money it received from the state. This amount will also include the new roadway construction project at 4th Avenue and 5th Street up to County Road 35. That project will hopefully start around mid-July.”
The next big project following the DOT project of 4th Avenue, according to Kelley, is the Pressure Zone Improvement Projects. Kelley says this project will include work being done around several of the local residential intersections.
“The area from Main Street west, going up by the water tower, has been going on for about a month and a half,” said Kelley. “We’ve got the water portion of it done and we will start to do the road next. Four other areas around town will start a little later this summer.”
According to Kelley, all five areas included in this project will be complete by the end of summer. Improvements throughout the five areas will include new waterlines or making different connections with the existing waterlines, trenching and repair work, and mostly new road for the 4th Avenue project. Kelley says the other areas will be on a much smaller scale in comparison to what is happening on 4th Avenue. The total cost of this improvement project is about $1.1 million.
“Then there will be some work on 12th Street between the old and new bypasses,” says Kelley. “That will probably start in mid-July. The cost of this project is about $3.5 million. We will be putting in the underground utilities to serve the new Law Enforcement Center. The utilities should be done by this fall, probably around mid to the end of October. Then next summer, we will do the new asphalt roadway with curb and gutter, but again that won’t start till next summer.”
Kelley says the city will try and keep the construction traffic on the old bypass. He hopes this will be the primary detour route while the city projects are taking place. He urges drivers to be as aware as possible.
“When we have the detour routes, there will be signs and flaggers - try to be conscious of them,” says Kelley. “I know it’s a hassle, but we can have some hazards if drivers try to circumvent the detours. I just ask that motorists try and be as patient with us as possible. We are trying to get these projects done as fast as we can.”
The city isn’t the only place drivers are being guided to multiple detours this summer. There are just as many projects taking place on the county roads as the NDDOT has several projects on their books as well.
“We currently have a paving and widening project on N.D. Highway 23 from 7th Street in Watford City to the junction of 1806,” says Katie Pizza with the NDDOT. “We have a paving, widening, and roundabout project on N.D. Highway 23 from one mile east of the junction of 1806 to the N.D. Highway 73 (Johnson Corners) intersection. We have a widening, paving, and climbing lane project on N.D. Highway 23 east of Watford City from the junction of N.D. Highway 73 (Johnson Corners) north to near the junction of N.D. Highway 22.”
And according to Pizza, work has recently begun on the paving and widening project on N.D. Highway 23 from 7th Street in Watford City, to the junction of 1806. She says asphalt work and utility relocation is currently underway. On N.D. Highway 23 from one mile east of the junction of 1806 to Johnson Corners, crews are working to construct the roundabout at the intersection of N.D. Highway 23 and N.D. Highway 73. And on Highway 23 north of Johnson Corners, pipe work is slated to begin soon.
As far as time lines and costs are concerned, the project at 7th Street in Watford City began this year and will be completed this year, and will cost $24.6 million. The project east to Johnson Corners began last year, and is slated to be completed this year, with a cost of $46 million. And the project north of Johnson Corners began this year and is slated to be completed next year and will cost $46.9 million.
Additional projects in the county being done by the NDDOT, aside from N.D. Highway 23 projects, include work on U.S. Highway 85, from County Road 16 to Williston, which began last year. According to Pizza, crews are continuing paving work and it will be completed this year. The cost of this portion of the project is approximately $35.8 million. Work on the paving and roundabout project east of Fairview began this year. The cost of that project is approximately nine million dollars. Currently, work has begun on a temporary roadway around the intersection of N.D. Highway 200/N.D. Highway 58. The construction cost of the two traffic signal projects, according to Pizza, is approximately $728,000.
“We have completed work on the traffic signal at the intersection of the Watford City South Business Route (U.S. Highway 85B) and N.D. Highway 23 south of Watford City, and will complete the traffic signal project at the intersection of U.S. Highway 85 and N.D. Highway 68 near Alexander this year,” says Pizza. “The slide repair project from two miles south of the Long X Bridge to one mile north of the Long X Bridge is expected to be completed this year.”
“Motorists can visit our website at http://www.dot.nd.gov/travel-info-v2/ for more information about construction projects and road conditions throughout North Dakota,” says Pizza.
The public is also welcome to attend weekly meetings, held every Tuesday morning from 10 to 11 a.m. at City Hall, in the Civic Center in Watford City, to learn about the reconstruction project of N.D. Highway 23 from Watford City to near the southeast bypass.
“These meetings are open to the public,” says Elaine Derry, Public Relations coordinator for Knife River. “People are free to ask questions. There will be engineers and project managers present to address any concerns or answer any questions. If there are any personal questions or people can’t attend the meetings, they can call me directly. I want to make sure communication is flowing well with the community.”
To reach Derry, call 701-570-2387 or email her at Elaine.firstname.lastname@example.org.