June 3, 2009

North Unit road to get face-lift

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

Summer is the time for traveling and road construction. Although no one likes having their travel plans delayed due to road construction, we all know that it’s something that needs to be done.
It’s one thing to have road construction on the highway, but when construction causes one of McKenzie County’s favorite tourist locations to be partially closed, it’s even worse.
From July 2008 through May 29, 2009 road construction kept most of Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s North Unit off limits. The road through the park was closed from mile marker six through the end of the park, and while the road has been re-opened, road construction will continue to affect the park throughout the summer.
“Clay and springs caused the roadway to shift and slip away, so we did an emergency contract to fix the Cedar Canyon portion of the road,” states Lynn Heiser, Theodore Roosevelt National Park chief of maintenance. “That contract is complete and the road has been opened back up, but an upcoming project will cause more road issues.”
According to Heiser, a second road project has been funded through government stimulus money to repair the road through the park from U.S. Highway 85 to the Oxbow Overlook at the end of the park.
“Throughout the construction we will keep the road open, but there will be delays,” adds Heiser. “Travelers can expect to encounter 20 to 30-minute delays because there will be only one lane of traffic open in the areas of road construction.”
According to Heiser, during the second project the road will be rebuilt and repaved.
“The road is beyond its useful life and the repairs are really needed,” adds Heiser. “Once we get through these projects the North Unit is going to have the nicest road in our park system.”
In addition to the repairs, there will be a new pullout at the Long X Trail, new pullout signs, and curbs and sidewalks throughout the park.
“We hope that people won’t let the construction keep them from the park,” comments Heiser. “It’s just one of those things that you have to grin and bear it during the tough times, because it will all be worth it in the end when the road through the park is brand new.”