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North Dakota DOT kicks off $370 million construction season

BISMARCK — North Dakota state transportation officials kicked off a $370 million highway construction season Wednesday, May 22, months after lawmakers rejected a gas tax increase to boost road funding.

The plans include reconstructing and rehabilitating sections of Interstate 94, reconstructing parts of Interstate 29 between Fargo and Wahpeton as well as reconstructing and rehabbing U.S. Highway 2 through the city of Devils Lake. Among the most expensive projects is the reconstruction of a section of 52nd Avenue in Fargo.

The state Department of Transportation announced the construction plans during a news conference Wednesday afternoon with the Associated General Contractors of North Dakota and the state Highway Patrol. Officials urged motorists to slow down and drive without distractions during the busy travel season.

Three motorists were killed in work zone crashes last year, a DOT spokeswoman said.

“Highway workers take many precautions to ensure the safety of workers on the construction site,” Wayde Swenson, the DOT's director of operations, said in a statement. “We are asking motorists to make smart driving choices when going through these work zones to keep everyone, highway workers and motorists, safe.”

The $370 million cited by state officials reflects state highway projects bid in 2019 and doesn't include multi-year projects from previous construction seasons. The price tag falls in line with 2017 and 2018 seasons, which came in at roughly $380 million and $360 million, respectively, according to a DOT spokeswoman.

The construction program soared past $800 million when the state was flush with tax revenue amid the oil boom several years ago, and it neared $700 million in 2016. Though a DOT spokeswoman said the agency no longer receives state oil impact funding for road projects, lawmakers this year adjusted the distribution of oil and gas tax revenues for local governments in non-oil producing areas to pay for infrastructure.

Swenson said the state depends heavily on federal aid for road projects, along with state gas tax and motor vehicle registration revenue. He acknowledged that there's "always more that could be done."

Russ Hanson, executive vice president of the Associated General Contractors of North Dakota, was among those who unsuccessfully lobbied for a gas tax increase during the legislative session that ended late last month. He called it a "true user fee," but it faced an uphill climb in the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Motorists can stay updated on construction projects by reviewing the travel information map on the DOT's website, calling 511, installing the ND Roads app on their smartphones or signing up for notifications.

Here are the DOT's most expensive 2019 projects:

  • Dickinson district: Reconstruction of Interstate 94 from Youngman’s Butte to west of Eagle Nest
  • Valley City district: Reconstruction of Interstate 94 from west Eckelson to east of North Dakota Highway 1 at Oakes
  • Fargo district: Reconstruction in Fargo, 52nd Avenue from 45th Street to Sheyenne Street
  • Bismarck district: Minor rehabilitation on Interstate 94 from junction of North Dakota Highway 25 to Grant Marsh Bridge between Bismarck and Mandan
  • Minot district: Widen bypass to four lanes, new construction on U.S. Highway 83 from Fourth Avenue Northwest to junction of U.S. Highway 83

Below is a list of other NDDOT road construction projects taking place this 2019 construction season:

Bismarck District:

McLean, Sheridan, Oliver, Burleigh, Kidder, Morton, Grant, Sioux, Logan, Emmons, Mercer, Wells and McIntosh counties. Major projects include:

· Minor rehabilitation on I-94 from Jct ND 25 E to the Burleigh county line

· Milling and overlay on ND 200 from Jct 200A to Jct ND 1806

· Installation of cable guardrail on I-94 from Tyler Parkway to E of Bismarck Expressway

· Reconstruction in Bismarck on north Washington from 57th Ave to ND 1804

· Intersection improvements in Bismarck on ND 1804 and north Washington St

Dickinson District:

Golden Valley, Billings, Dunn, Mercer, Stark, Slope, Hettinger, Bowman and Adams counties.

Major projects include:

· Major rehabilitation on US 85 from 9 miles north of Amidon to Stark county line

· Seal coating on I-94 from Little Missouri River to Fryburg

· Seal coating on I-94 from Fryburg to South Heart

· Seal coating on US85 from north Bowman to Belfield

· Surfacing and seal coating on ND 49 from Morton county line to Beulah

· Reconstruction of I-94 from Youngman’s Butte to west of Eagles Nest

Williston District:

Divide, Burke, Williams, Mountrail, McKenzie and Ward counties.

Major projects include:

· Major rehabilitation of ND 1804 from Jct Tioga Road to Red Mike Area

· Safety improvements on US 85 Safety Corridor (Watford City to Alexander)

· Surfacing and widening on US 85 from Fortuna to State Line

· Milling and overlay on ND 5 from Columbus to west Jct US 52

Minot District:

Renville, Bottineau, Mountrail, McHenry, Ward, McLean, Sheridan, Wells, Rollette and Pierce counties. Major projects include:

· Paving and widening of US 83 from Minot AFB to west Jct ND 5-Renville Corner

· New construction on US 83 from 4th Ave NW to Jct US 83

· Surfacing of ND 19 from McHenry county line to Jct ND 3

· Safety improvements on the US 2 & US 52 Safety Corridor (Brooks Jct to Velva)

· Structure replacement, turn lanes and lighting on US 2, 9 miles west of ND 41

Devils Lake District:

Rolette, Towner, Cavalier, Pierce, Ramsey, Benson, Wells, Eddy, Nelson, Foster, Griggs and Stutsman counties. Major projects include:

· Major rehabilitation of US 2 from Mauvais Coulee to Jct ND 19

· Major rehabilitation of US 281 from south Jct ND 15 through New Rockford

· Major rehabilitation of US 2 from ND 19 to Devils Lake city limits

· Milling and overlay of ND 66 from Jct ND 20 east to Jct ND 1

· Reconstruction of US 2, 1 mile east of Rugby

· Major rehabilitation of US 52 from Jct ND 200/US 281 to south Carrington

Valley City District:

Stutsman, Barnes, Logan, Lamoure, McIntosh, Dickey, Kidder, Foster, Steele and Ransom counties. Major projects include:

· Asphalt overlay on ND 13 from Lehr to E Jct ND 56

· Minor rehabilitation in Valley City Central Ave from Main to 12th St

· Milling and overlay of US 281 from South Dakota state line to the township line

· Milling and overlay of US 281 from Edgeley north to Jct ND 46

· Milling and overlay of I-94 from east Dawson Interchange to Crystal Springs

· Reconstruction of I-94 from west Eckelson to east of ND 1 Oakes

Fargo District:

Traill, Cass, Richland, Sargent, Ransom, Steele, Grand Forks, Lamoure and Dickey counties.

Major projects include:

· Milling and overlay on ND 13 from Jct ND 32 to ND 18

· Milling and overlay on ND 18 from Jct Cass County 10 to Traill county line

· Installation of cable guardrail on I-29 from south 52nd Ave to Cty Rd 20

· Reconstruction of I-29 from Galchutt Exit to Christine Exit

· Reconstruction in West Fargo, Sheyenne St from 40th Ave W to 32nd Ave W

· Reconstruction in Fargo, 52nd Ave from 45th St to Sheyenne St

· Reconstruction in Fargo, Main Ave from Broadway to 2nd St

Grand Forks District:

Pembina, Nelson, Walsh, Grand Forks, Griggs, Steele, Cavalier, Ramsey, Traill and Cass counties. Major projects include:

· Minor rehabilitation of ND 18 from Jct ND 5 to County Road 55

· Milling and overlay of ND 32 from US 2 north to Jct ND 17

· Milling and overlay of US 2 from Michigan bypass east to Grand Forks county line

· Installation of cable guardrail on I-29 from south 32nd Ave to north Gateway Dr

· Reconstruction of US 2, Demers Ave, 5th St to Sorlie Bridge

· Reconstruction of ND 297, Demers Ave, 6th St to 5th St

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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