It is an issue plaguing many communities in western North Dakota effected by the oil boom:
By BRYCE MARTIN
Posted Feb. 1, 2013
KILLDEER — It is an issue plaguing many communities in western North Dakota effected by the oil boom: an unprecedented increase in truck traffic.
The proposed solution for the city of Killdeer is to construct a truck bypass route, but that may not completely solve the problem. At the same time, it may cause new problems for local businesses and residents.
“(A bypass has) been talked about a lot,” said Dawn Marquardt, city auditor for Killdeer.
Construction of a truck bypass first was discussed two years ago, but struck down by the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT). A bypass was not feasible at the time because NDDOT explained the city and county would have to pay for the project.
“At the time, they didn’t have the funding,” Marquardt said.
Because Highway 22, where the majority of the traffic exists, is a state-owned roadway, the project will be funded by NDDOT, which now possesses the necessary funds to complete such a project.
The favored route, beginning west of the Killdeer roundabout at the intersection of Highways 22 and 200 and proceeding to intersect Highway 22 just south of 1st St. SW, was selected by county and city commissioners at their meeting last year. Along the course of the project, two possible routes were ruled out completely and one was considered unfeasible.
Construction for the project, put up for bid this summer and won by HDR Engineering of Bismarck, is similar to the bypass routes many nearby communities are establishing.
Marquardt said she spoke with representatives of Williston, located about 100 miles northwest of Killdeer. They were at the beginning stages of their bypass and faced similar concerns to Killdeer.
“We want the bypass far out of the city, but, in actuality, it’s tough to create,” she said.
Effects on businesses in Killdeer from a possible truck route are some of the main concerns for the city.
“There has been concern that business will become slow,” she said. “That’s the biggest discussion. The city can’t look at just the truck bypass – we still have to maintain our city.”
To better gauge potential effects on businesses and the public, the city is scheduled to host two meetings, one for local business owners and one for the public.
At the first meeting, invited business owners are to discuss how they feel about current traffic and how a bypass would affect them and their businesses. The second meeting, scheduled for Feb. 19, is for public informational purposes.
“There is very little parking anywhere and you take your life in your own hands trying to cross the road to take care of business or even crossing in a vehicle to get home daily,” wrote Denise Sandvick, owner of Office Express & More in Killdeer, on the Herald’s Facebook page.
Alternatively, Joe Krieg, a former resident of Killdeer, expressed his concern for the project.
“That truck bypass is going to come out on 200, right across from my mom’s approach,” Krieg wrote on Facebook. “So what they are doing is passing the problem onto someone else, not solving the actual problem.”
Marquardt disagreed, but said there likely would be public opposition with the project.
“It could potentially affect some of the residents along the bypass,” she said.
The detriment posed to the roads throughout downtown Killdeer, however, is greater than that of the potential effects from the route, she said.
“But that is the question up for debate.”
Because Highway 22 is a state highway, trucks would still be allowed to utilize the highway and are not legally mandated to use the truck bypass.
Even though it is designed to lead truck traffic out of the city, the quantity of trucks that actually would use the bypass is one uncertainty of the project.
“That is an open public right-of-way,” said Peggy Anderson, communications director for NDDOT. “When bypasses are built, we understand there are trucks that need to go through to conduct business. A lot goes into a truck bypass.”
With the planning process underway, Killdeer faces a long road ahead before construction can begin. Of particular significance considering area resources are the potential historical and archeological impacts of the project, which would have to be examined prior to a public hearing.
Rick Stoppelmoor, an engineer with HDR, will serve as the project manager for the truck bypass construction. He said that projected cost and length of the proposed routes are unavailable because it is too early in the planning process.
Contact Bryce Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.