Public offers sensitive input on bypass alternatives

It was the public’s turn Tuesday to voice opinions on the proposed Killdeer truck bypass.

Residents, landowners and public officials gathered Tuesday at the first public meeting for the Killdeer truck bypass project. (Photo by BRYCE MARTIN/Herald)
Residents, landowners and public officials gathered Tuesday at the first public meeting for the Killdeer truck bypass project. (Photo by BRYCE MARTIN/Herald)

By BRYCE MARTIN

Herald Editor

Posted Feb. 22, 2013

KILLDEER — It was the public’s turn Tuesday to voice opinions on the proposed Killdeer truck bypass.

Nearly filling the Killdeer Public School cafeteria, landowners, residents and officials gathered to hear engineering firm HDR’s information regarding the project, then took turns at the microphone to lend their insight.

“Most folks living in and around Killdeer know why the project is needed – they’re experiencing rapid truck growth and traffic growth through the city and right through the middle of town,” said Rick Stoppelmoor, project manager for the bypass construction.

Consensus during the meeting was that the dramatic increase in truck traffic caused concerns of people traveling in public, the safety of school children crossing Highway 22, and the general ease of getting in and around town.

“And, in the future, it’ll get even worse,” Stoppelmoor said.

With the four proposed alternatives on large display boards for all to examine, and even markup with their own suggestions, several residents took the floor to announce their concerns with the project.

“We need to get some type of a way to alleviate the big trucks coming through Main Street,” said resident and Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing Founder Don Hedger, in favor of the bypass.

Farmer Kent Rogney held a different view.

“This is a city problem and they always look to the rural people to alleviate the problems for them,” Rogney said.

Rogney owns a farm that, if certain alternatives are adopted, would diagonally cut across his farmland and provide limited access.

“It’s going to eliminate (the farm’s) ability to grow,” he said. “And I can’t develop because there’s no way to access it. So, you’re double screwing me.”

Jim Jeske was passionately in opposition to the bypass.

“I’m nothing more than a Dunn County resident. I love it here and I don’t want to screw this up,

Jeske said. “It’s too bad we can’t make everybody happy.”

Jeske considered the bypass would ultimately yield a consequence, either positive or negative, for somebody. Jeske said he moved in the country for the very thing the bypass would take away, upset that the plan’s “considerations” did not aptly figure into social lives.

“I’ve got four little grandchildren that live 80 yards from a proposed route,” he said. “I, frankly, don’t care to see that happen.”

Jeske, whose own property also lies near a proposed route, said the people of Dunn County aren’t on the winning end with all the development and that developers, such as HDR, aren’t truly listening to the people.

“I don’t know if you people can ever do this, but can you ever put yourself in somebody else’s place?” he asked the developer. “Do you ever think about the fact that the value of my property is going to go from what it is now down to nothing because, who wants to live by a truck bypass?”

As Jeske walked away from the microphone, Stoppelmoor said they do consider queries such as the ones posed.

Florine Lazorenko owns a property west of Killdeer and agrees the traffic is terrible.

“We live just right off the highway, but we don’t hear the trucks at night, but I do worry about the kids by the school,” Lazorenko said.

Lazorenko brought up a different issue – anhydrous ammonia tankers driving through town.

“The city doesn’t like it, with the anhydrous tanks going through town,” she said. “If we come in, where we can hit the bypass straight east of town, the farmers could go out … on the highway and that is a safety issue.”

Anhydrous ammonia is used as fertilizers either as its salts or as solutions. When applied to soil, it helps provide increased yields of crops such as corn and wheat.

“We have lots of money, our state does, but let’s use common sense. Let’s save some of that and build a four-lane highway to Dickinson,” she said.

Following the public comment, Paul Benning of the North Dakota Department of Transportation further explained the process of the project and its next steps.

“When we started this project, we were approached by Killdeer as far as looking at if there’s a way to create some type of a bypass to alleviate the problem,” Benning said.

Benning said the NDDOT asked for a map that illustrated how the city thought the bypass would look.

“We basically got a map that had a couple drawings on one side of the city and one or two on the other side,” he said. “From there, the DOT, the city and the county got together and went out to hire a consultant. That consultant is HDR.

“We’ve been meeting as a team every two weeks to come up with some of these proposals here.

As we develop this report, we continue to look at the pros and cons of each of these alternatives.”

Benning said the city and county now serve as the NDDOT’s “eyes and ears” for pointing out which routes may serve better than others. The alternatives call to be developed on one side of the city, not to go all the way around Killdeer.

“We want to make sure that any bypass doesn’t hurt the city of Killdeer,” Stoppelmoor said. “We’ve heard a lot of occasions where a bypass kills the town. We want to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Contact Bryce Martin at bmartin@countymedia.net.


Share this post