"This is where our future is going to come from."
That's how Governor Jack Dalrymple describes the ongoing oil boom in western North Dakota.
He made the comments today as he joined others in shoveling the first dirt for a new bypass highway around Watford City.
The official name for the road is "truck reliever route," and it will run right through this farmland southwest of town.
In this case, it's a highway that will skirt the southern edge of the town that's exploded in population in the past few years.
The route will remove thousands of big rigs from the heart of Watford City each day - recent counts say about 37-hundred trucks move through the town daily.
The project was made possible by funding passed in the 2013 Legislature and signed into law by the governor.
(Sen. Rich Wardner, -R- Dickinson) "We want the quality of life back. We want the public safety back. And I'll tell you, these truck reliever routes are a step, a huge step, in that direction."
(Brent Sanford, Watford City Mayor) "Today is one of the most monumental things we could see happen here to help with probably the number one concern and safety concern of the residents is the traffic, the overcrowding of our existing highway system, as would happen when you have twenty times more people around. This is not the fault of anyone who designed this existing system, this is just the result of this oil boom."
The Watford City bypass is one of several now in the works in western North Dakota.
And top state officials say the truck reliever routes are key to helping the region continue to grow safely.
(Grant Levi, ND Department of Transportation Director) "Each and every one of the projects we're completing enhances the safety of the traveling public which is really our mission as an agency."
(Gov. Jack Dalrymple, -R- North Dakota) "These are essential investments for the entire state of North Dakota. Not just for a few counties out here, but this is the future of our prosperity for the whole state of North Dakota."
Construction will start this year on the 72-million first phase of the Watford City bypass, with the second phase scheduled for construction next year. Both phases should be finished by the end of next year's construction season.