November 20, 2014

Bypass finally a reality

By Jerry W. Kram

The city of New Town has been waiting for half a decade for some relief from the relentless truck traffic that has been rumbling down its Main Street since the beginning of the Bakken Boom. That relief came on Monday as the North Dakota Department of Transportation officially opened the North Dakota Highway 23B Truck Reliever Route, more commonly known as the New Town Bypass.

The story of the bypass actually begins with the City of New Town’s decision to do a major reconstruction of Main Street – a section of Highway 23 – in about 2007. The engineering and design of that project took about two years, and by 2009 there was too much truck traffic to reroute during construction. The city began working on building a bypass on its own, but the cost and complexity of the project made it necessary to bring in the state DOT. The project was to be built last year, but former MHA Tribal Chairman Tex Hall demanded modifications to protect the Elbowoods Clinic. The delay pushed the project into 2014.

North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple came to New Town Monday to dedicate the bypass. Dalrymple, Tribal Chairman Mark Fox, Uran and NDDOT Director Grant Levi spoke at a ceremony at the New Town Civic Center. After the ceremony, the group proceeded the the ribbon cutting ceremony in the frigid outdoors near the bypass connection with North Dakota Highway 1804.

"This truck reliever route is an important infrastructure investment for New Town and the region, taking trucks off the community’s Main Street and enhancing traffic movement and safety," said Dalrymple. "This is the fourth reliever route or bypass to open this fall in western North Dakota, underscoring the state’s commitment to address the impacts of rapid growth and enhance the safety of our roadways."

The $25 million, 3.2 mile New Town Truck Reliever Route will divert truck traffic from New Town’s Main Street to northwest of the city. From there, trucks can continue west on Highway 1804 or follow it south to continue west on Highway 23. The two-lane roadway includes turn lanes and asphalt with concrete at the intersections. Construction work began on the project this past spring.

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