April 7, 2010

Major work on Highway 85 begins

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

Spring is finally here, and with it comes the dreaded road construction season.
The first project in McKenzie County has already started on Highway 85 south of Watford City, and it’s not scheduled to wrap up until October. But as always, the road will be nicer and safer when it’s finished.
“We’ve already started on a grading project that runs from seven miles north of Grassy Butte to the Long X Bridge,” says Joel Wilt, North Dakota Department of Transportation assistant district engineer. “This project will remove the existing pavement and base and also straighten and widen the road.”
Crews have started covering signs and doing some fencing for the straightening project and will soon begin tearing up the road.
“During the grading project, we will carry traffic through instead of using detours, for emergencies,” adds Wilt. “In the past when working in this area, we’ve had some sliding, so we will have emergency detours available just to be safe.”
According to Wilt, the approximate construction cost for the grading project will be $9.5 million, which doesn’t include any design or engineering costs.
Another project will micro-surface Highway 85 from Grassy Butte to the Junction with Highway 23. This project, which will fill in the ruts on the highway, is in the bidding stages, so it is unknown when the $1.1 million project will begin or be completed.
“In addition to these two projects we will also be adding turn lanes and doing some widening from the south junction of Highway 200 to Williston,” adds Wilt. “This project has  a price tag of $8.5 million and a bid opening of April 16.”
The Department of Transportation also plans to begin adding rumble strips to the center of all two-lane highways in the state. This is a project that will run over five years, beginning in Williston.
“We expect to get into McKenzie County this summer with the rumble strip project,” says Wilt. “That is something we are doing as a safety precaution. Bidding for this $4 million project will open on April 23, given we receive the amount of federal funding that we are expecting.”
The nicer it gets, the more road construction you can expect to see. So now is the time to leave early and plan for delays when you’re driving on the highway.