A bypass to move truck traffic from the city of Williston to a route skirting the city's northwest side is now officially open.
In tonight's Eye on Energy, Jim Olson reports on today's ribbon cutting west of Williston.
(Rep. Rick Berg) "One of the reasons this is taking so long is we stop every time a truck goes by..."
The ceremony marking the opening of the temporary truck bypass around Williston was interrupted by noise from trucks several times. But it was music to Williston Mayor Ward Koeser's ears.
(Ward Koeser, Williston Mayor) "Every time a truck goes by here I internally smile because that's one less truck. It's not like we don't like the oil industry, we love 'em, but it's nice when they're going by here instead of going through town."
The long time mayor says this date marks a major advance in the efforts to bring some sense of normalcy back to life in Williston
(Ward Koeser, Williston Mayor) "This is a huge deal for us today. We've had huge trucks go through town every day - it's one thing to have cars and pickups go through your town, but to have semis go through your town really creates problems. This is just another step in the right direction and we are blessed and I feel good about it."
Williams County Commissioner Dan Kalil agrees - getting truck traffic largely out of Williston will be a big part in actual progress for the area.
(Dan Kalil, Williams County Commissioner) "It's been a difficult four years and it's no secret to anybody. And when you're visiting with legislators about it and people in the industry, they say, it's progress. But in my mind progress is something that raises all boats - it's the high tide that raises all the ships - and this temporary bypass is a good sign of progress that will help everyone."
Department of Transportation Director Francis Ziegler says the bypass will help cut into the three-fold increase in the number of trucks coming through Williston over the past few years. And he says, in normal bureaucratic terms, the bypass was built was lightning fast.
(Francis Ziegler, ND DOT Director) "Design was completed in March, we bid it in April, construction started in May, and here we are today. That's pretty quick by most standards - by all standards."
The 12 million dollar project diverts truck traffic from US Highways 2 and 85 onto County Road 1 about 8 miles west of Williston, moving them north to County Road 6 and onto Highways 2 east and 85 north.
(Dan Kalil, Williams County Commissioner) "Many of you are familiar with the farm-to-market road system built a generation ago. Today what we need is an oil to market road system."
He says County Road 1 is the first such oil to market road in Williams County - and he and Koeser thanked Governor Dalrymple and other state officials and legislators for paying the entire bill for the project - something quite unusual for a state road project. Meanwhile, planning is well underway for a second bypass on Williston's northeast side - a route expected to be open by the end of this year. All with the goal of helping life in Williston take a step back - while still benefiting from the boom in oil exploration in the region. Jim Olson, KX News.
The state is also currently working on truck bypasses around Watford City, Alexander, New Town, and Dickinson.