One of the many impacts of oil activity in North Dakota is the increase in heavy truck traffic.
For many cities like Dickinson, trucks drive right through town.
It slows down traffic and causes safety issues.
That's why the Department of Transportation is planning bypasses around several cities in the oil patch, Dickinson included.
DOT District Engineer, Larry Gangl says, "We've had concerns from citizens about the heavy truck traffic and the noise associated with it."
Highway 22 cuts right through Dickinson's main north business area. It's also a major road for oil traffic traveling from I-94 to Killdeer and beyond.
Three thousand trucks a day travel this stretch.
But in an effort to get them out of town, work started this week on a bypass around Dickinson.
It begins at exit 59, Dickinson's farthest west exit, and goes north to 33rd street until it meets up with Highway 22 north of town.
"The heavy truck traffic that comes in and out of Dickinson from the north is going to have a way to stay out of town this way," says Gangl.
While the bypass will decrease truck traffic in town, it will cause more traffic for some rural residents.
Gangl says, "We try to pick the best route, the one that will have the least impact to people who live along the route, least impact to environment. That will be the best, safest route.
The second phase of the bypass will be to add an interchange three miles west of Dickinson.
"So as Dickinson continues to grow to the west this will move the trucks and traffic out further to the west," says Gangl.
A new interchange is a big deal, and expensive.
The most recent interchange was built in Fargo in 2008 and cost $20 million.
Dickinson has three exits, the last one was built in 1964.
Gangl says, "You can sure tell an area is growing when you start to build interchanges."
The new exit 56 is in the plans for the 2014 construction season.
The total cost of phase one of the Dickinson bypass project is $28 million.
The north part of the interim bypass (which is shown in red) will be finished this fall, with the east west road complete next year.
The ultimate plan starting with the new interchange is still in the planning phase.
Meanwhile, the wet spring has not delayed the progress of major road construction projects in western North Dakota.
Spokesperson Kyle Niess (nice) says the Department of Transportation is on pace with projects on Highways 22 and 85.
Passing and turning lanes are being added to the roads.
Widening the highways will improve safety and traffic flow.
Highways 22 and 85 are main north south arteries for oil traffic in the western part of the state which are experiencing heavy truck traffic.
Currently, 30 miles of Highway 22 north of Dickinson and 45 miles of 85 under construction.
Niess says, "You are going to see a lot of work going on, a lot of flaggers, people doing night work, people on shoulders and ditches, narrower lanes, slower speeds. Travel slower and be aware that it will take you longer to travel through those areas."
Construction on both 22 and 85 are expected to be complete this fall.
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