September 20, 2012

Bypass plans go public

Bypass plans go public
By Jerry W. Kram

After more than a year of work behind the scenes, the truck bypass (known more formally as a truck reliever route) had a coming out party at a public input meeting at the New Town Civic Center on Thursday, Sept. 13.
Alan Estvold of Estvold Ackerman Engineering, the city’s engineering company, gave a brief description of the work that has been done to this time. He explained that the origin of the project started with a traffic study back in 2006 that the city used to plan upgrades to Main Street that were to be done this year. However, that study missed the start of the oil boom so what the planners though would be 20 years of traffic growth happened by 2009. By 2012, New Town had 11,000 to 13,000 vehicles a day rolling through the middle of town.
Because of unexpected increase in traffic, it was evident that the Main Street project couldn’t move forward until a bypass could be built. As part of examination of the alternatives, Estvold said his firm has looked at what it would take to handle the current level of traffic on Main Street and that it would require widening the street into five lanes. He said that would be impractical and wouldn’t address problems such as pedestrian safety.
A second alternative, going south of the city had the advantage of being built on existing section line roads. However, that alternative would require crossing the Canadian Pacific Railroad twice and would have to go two miles south to avoid the New Town Airport. The route could also cause problems with the Cenex oil loading facility.
“We haven’t discarded the southern route,” Estvold said. “But it does have problems.”
The final three alternatives meet Highway 23 one to two miles east of New Town and loop north around the city until they meeting Highway 1804. The alternatives are designed to avoid the old city landfill and minimize impacts on wetlands and archeological sites northeast of the city.

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