April 29, 2014

NDDOT looks to improve traffic flow at busy city intersection

By Stephanie Norman
Farmer Staff Writer

Many people get held up in traffic at the Watford City intersection where U.S. Highway 85 meets N.D. Highway 23 Urban Business Route. This intersection, which is in front of Kum & Go, sits at the base of Watford City’s Main Street lineup.
Not only family size cars and pick-up trucks are pulling through this T-Intersection, but semi trucks and heavy haulers are bombarding the streets too.
This is a dangerous and highly congested intersection - not to mention, there is a children’s park right by it.
The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT), along with the city of Watford City, McKenzie County and the Federal Highway Administration have been working with KLJ Project Engineers to come up with a plan to improve the quality and safety along U.S. Highway 85 through Watford City.
“The rapid growth in truck traffic volume has impacted traffic flow through Watford City,” Katie Pizza, NDDOT Williston District representative, said. “Thus creating the need for a permanent truck reliever route. The NDDOT is aggressively addressing infrastructure improvements to enhance traffic movement in western North Dakota.”
At a Public Input Meeting held last week on this topic, KLJ Project Engineer Jessica Karls presented two different intersection plans for the intersection near Kum & Go.
One intersection proposal is a Standard Intersection, which is similar to what it is now - a T-Intersection. The other proposal is a Roundabout Intersection, which would have five legs and realign 3rd Ave.
Both intersection plans provide crosswalks, lighting and pedestrian facilities.
“The Roundabout would require the NDDOT to buy out land,” Karls said. “The Standard Intersection would not have buyouts.”
Whichever intersection is chosen would still include a three-lane roadway through the heart of Watford City with both rural and urbanized sections.
The plans state that the urbanized sections would include lighting, pedestrian facilities and gutters. The rural areas would not have those features.
At this point, there is not a cost associated with the reconstruction of this intersection nor the rural roadways that branch from it, Karls said, although, it is known that the Roundabout would be a bit more expensive.
Some community members noted at the meeting that safety is important to them.
“The Roundabout Intersection is the first idea I’ve seen that puts safety ahead of the dollar amount,” one community member said.
Other individuals were a bit confused by the plans and questioned why roadways were laid out certain ways on the proposed map. NDDOT representatives said they are basing the layout on geographical and economical studies that have been done.
On the map with the proposed plans, it shows frontage roads with less access roads coming off of U.S. Highway 85 and N.D. Highway 23.
“By adding frontage roads, we will eliminate some access roads, but consolidate traffic,” Karls said.
A Safe Routes to School frontage road is also shown in the plans along the U.S. Highway 85 corridor around Watford City where the new high school will be built.
According to Karls, the proposed project would offer the community the needed infrastructure as it evolves and grows.
The U.S. Highway 85 Bypass around Watford City began construction last year and is scheduled for completion in 2014. The U.S. Highway 23 Bypass construction will begin this year and is projected to be complete this year as well.
According to Karls, the three-lane urban and rural roadways and intersection on Main Street is scheduled for construction in 2015-16.
Comments or statements regarding this construction will be accepted by mail to Jessica Karls at 3203 32nd Ave. South, Suite 201, Fargo, ND 58103, or emailed to jessica.karls@kljeng.com