Construction in High Gear - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Construction in High Gear

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The 2013 road construction season is in high gear in western North Dakota.

And the work is slowing traffic in many busy areas.

But, as Jim Olson reports, it's also promising easier travels in years to come.

It's a sound of the times right now in northwest North Dakota.

The sound of heavy equipment mixed in with lots of traffic.

It's the sound of road construction at a fever pitch. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent this year just in the Williston district of the state Department of Transportation to upgrade roads and make travel safer.

(Katie Pizza, ND Dept. of Transportation) "Things are progressing very well and we are on schedule with our projects."

The DOT is in the midst of a 20-plus mile widening of Highway 85 between Watford City and Alexander...a stretch of highway that has seen many fatal accidents in recent years. The project will widen the road and add turning lanes at key spots. This work will be finished next year - and then the rest of the highway to Williston will get an upgrade.

(Katie Pizza, ND Dept. of Transportation) "The second part of the project, that's going to begin next year and that portion is also going to include the replacement of the Lewis and Clark Bridge over the Missouri River."

That will mean that in about two years, the entire stretch of Highway 85 between Williston and Watford City will be four lanes to accommodate oil traffic and all of the thousands of other vehicles that hit that road every day.

Other major projects in progress are another truck reliever route around Williston, and a bypass around Watford City.

(Jim Olson, KX News) "The Williston district of the Department of Transportation is the busiest in the state and here, on the eastern edge of the district, in Ray, is another project underway. IN all, hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent in this district, this year."

(Katie Pizza, ND Dept. of Transportation) "Around 270 miles of roadwork will be performed this year costing approximately 390 million dollars."

That's hundreds of millions of dollars poured into projects with one goal - make travel in North Dakota's oil country safer for everyone. Jim Olson, KX News.

Another major road project is slowing traffic in the city of Williston right now.

The Highway 2 and 85 bypass is being upgraded at the intersection with 11th Street.

Heavy equipment is busy clearing space for more lanes and changes in how the traffic flows in that area.

But the construction itself is making some major changes in where and how slowly traffic is moving there.

And it has caused the people at Mercy Medical Center to warn people that they may have to find different routes to get to the hospital and emergency room.

Hospital officials suggest people coming from the west get off the bypass on Second Street and take 9th Avenue north to 11th Street before heading west for the hospital.

From the north, they suggest taking 9th Avenue south to 11th Street and then heading west to the hospital.

Construction on that site is expected to finish in October.

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