April 27, 2012

Bypass start questionable

Bypass start questionable
By Jerry W. Kram

Complying with federal environmental regulations could push the start of construction of a bypass, officially called a truck reliever route, around New Town into 2013.
City Engineer Alan Estvold reported on a meeting he held with the North Dakota Department of Transportation and federal environmental regulators in Bismarck. Last month Estvold told the council he had hoped the city might be able to solicit bids to build the bypass in May. However, he presented the council with a map of five new alternative routes for the bypass that the federal regulators wanted analyzed. He also shared a calendar for approving the bypass plan from the feds that includes three reviews of the project before it can even be opened for public comments. That calendar has the project open for bids on Jan. 29, 2013.
“I just don’t have answers with these guys,” Estvold said. “I can’t keep up.”
Estvold added that even if the bypass receives no federal funds, the regulators are too deep in their review to withdraw the project from their scrutiny. One complication is that the proposed bypass will cross a designated wetland and the Army Corps of Engineers has demanded the city get what is called a 404 permit before it can build in that area.

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