The North Dakota Department of Transportation along with state and federal leaders celebrated the opening of the new Long X Bridge today.
KX News was there for an inside look at just how important this new piece of infrastructure is.
The Long X Bridge has been a vital piece of highway 85 for more than 60 years.
“It connects the Western part of our state and over the years we have been wanting to Improve and upgrade this bridge structure.” Director of the NDDoT Bill Panos said.
Thanks to a 3-headed collaboration between local, state, and federal communities, the nearly $40-million project was completed, turning a two-lane bridge into a four-lane.
“Over the last few years our trucks have got larger and heavier, and we needed a bridge to accommodate that. In fact, our former bridge was oftentimes struck.” Panos said.
Panos says it’s not unusual to see over 4,000 vehicles cross the bridge daily, and closure of any sort could result in a 70-plus mile detour.
He hopes opening the bridge up will eliminate this.
“It’s going to be a great part of the future economic development and community development of this part of our state. It’s a heavily used bridge and frankly, it’s a strategic bridge,” he said.
The new 790-foot-long infrastructure has built-in technology to help accommodate North Dakota’s harshest weather and just south of the bridge is an animal crossing tunnel.
“It’s important that we have really healthy wildlife and that we develop highway systems that improve their ability to move around,” Panos said.
Thus serving a double purpose, keeping both travelers and wildlife as safe as possible.
Panos says the new bridge should be completely open and ready for use by Summer 2021.