North Dakota Transportation Department Reviews Highway After Crashes

December 17, 2014

The North Dakota Transportation Department is assessing safety at a highway intersection following a string of accidents near Alexander in the northwestern part of the state.

McKenzie County emergency manager Karolin Rockvoy requested the review after a fatal crash on U.S. Highway 85 on Tuesday, the Bismarck Tribune reported. It was the 20th highway death in the county this year and followed a nearby crash Monday and a fatal accident on Dec. 6. At least two of the three crashes were caused by a failure to yield.

Inspectors will access the area and determine whether there are visual traps or obstructions near the intersection of highways 85 and 68, DOT deputy director Mark Nelson said. The review will likely take two months, he said.

The department has spent about $300 million building the 42 miles of four-lane highway within the past three years. Although the four-lane highway is a great way to alleviate traffic congestion, it presents new risks, Rockvoy said.

She plans to keep pushing for a more thorough assessment of the highway’s entirety, instead of just the intersection of highways 85 and 68. Rockvoy believes an overhead or signal lighting system at main intersections, lower speed limits and flashing yellow lights would make the highway safer.

Alexander Fire Chief Lance Powell said there are at least 10 locations on the highway that need lighting. There are some other inherent problems with the highway, he said, including the undivided median that’s often used as a turning or passing lane.

“It’s basically a five-lane highway. Sometimes, it’s so dirty that you can’t tell what lane you’re in, especially in the dark. It’s a mess,” Powell said.

And sometimes the lack of a divided median causes accidents, especially when a driver spins out, he said.

“It’s not done the way it should have been done,” Powell said of the highway.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.