North Dakota Cities Dealing With Busier Intersections

January 29, 2013

Burgeoning North Dakota cities are studying how to handle the congestion and safety challenges that come with busier street intersections.

The issue is perhaps most pressing in the western oil patch cities of Williston and Dickinson, where the number of people and vehicles servicing the booming energy industry continue to grow.

One intersection in Dickinson that had a daily traffic count of 15,500 vehicles in 2011 is expected to see 21,000 vehicles each day within a few years, City Administrator Shawn Kessel told The Forum. At another intersection, officials worry about traffic backing up onto Interstate 94.

“I’ve not yet seen that, but it’s been awful close,” Kessel said.

Dickinson officials hope a truck bypass that the state Transportation Department plans to build early this year will take some of the pressure off city intersections.

Nearly 42,000 vehicles pass through Williston’s busiest intersection each day, City Traffic Technician Neil Bakken said. That is about 1,400 more than the busiest intersection in Fargo, the state’s largest city.

A temporary bypass has been built to route truck traffic around Williston, but many truck drivers use GPS to find the shortest route to their destination, which might send them through parts of town where trucks were not intended to go.

“They’re running over street lights, running over traffic signals, all kinds of different things,” Bakken said. “I’ve worked for the city 30 years, and up until about a year and a half ago, I think I had one traffic signal actually knocked down. We’ve had four or five (knocked down) in the last year and a half.”

Officials are working on plans for a permanent truck bypass around Williston.

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