Lots of Support to Widen Highway 85
Speaking to a generally supportive audience, engineers from the North Dakota Department of Transportation met with people from Belfield, Fairfield and Watford City this week to hear responses to a plan to widen Highway 85 to four lanes from Belfield to Watford City.
"It's not that often that we get so many people to stand up and voice support for a project," said Project Manager Matt Linneman.
The draft environmental impact statement for the 62-mile project formed the basis of the public hearings. The groups discussed social, cultural and natural elements of the project such as displaced businesses or homes, impact on historic monuments, wildlife and recreation trails.
Linneman said much of the Fairfield discussion was about adjacent farm and ranch land and the impact on nearby landowners. He said the Belfield discussion was more wide-ranging.
The Watford City meeting focused heavily on the route through the Badlands, the impact on the North Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and the bridge over the Little Missouri River. There was no opposition to replacing the bridge, though some at the meeting asked about adding the existing bridge to a recreation trail connecting the Maah Daah Hey Trail to Watford City. That option has been ruled out.
The public comment period on the project continues through June 25. After that, the comments will be reviewed, and the final Environmental Impact Statement for the preferred alternative will be completed. Then funding, permits and rights of way will be acquired.
to read Amy Dalrymple's Bismarck Tribune story.
to read KX-News story