April 17, 2014

Elbowoods Crossing reborn?

By Jerry W. Kram

Since 1954, there has been just a single crossing point between Williston and the Garrison Dam, the Four Bears Bridge west of New Town. Before the creation of Lake Sakakawea, the town of Elbowoods was a major crossing point. In fact, the old Elbowoods bridge was moved to become the original Four Bears Bridge.

While Elbowoods sleeps under the waters of the lake, a group is studying whether or not this historic crossing can be reborn, not as a bridge but as a ferry service.

VisionWestND is a consortium of various local, county and state agencies and organizations that are working to put together a comprehensive plan of action for the 2015 North Dakota Legislature to address the needs of the oil and gas producing counties of the state. The group is wrapping up its work after holding community and fact finding meetings across oil country for the last 18 months. But before it wraps up its work and publishes its report this year, the consortium wants to cover one more question – can a ferry operate successfully on Lake Sakakawea?

The group, which is set to disband after producing its report, held a conference call last week to see if it could answer that question with its remaining resources. Ulteig Engineering presented a plan for a feasibility study for creating a ferry service. Bob Youness said a full blown engineering study would cost $150,000. The consortium currently has about $5,000 left in its budget that it could devote to the project.


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