September 4, 2009

Diverse economy creates traffic burden

Diverse economy creates traffic burden
Editor’s note: This is the second of a three-part series that will examine the need for changes on N.D. Highway 23 that include four laning about 75 miles of the highway, making changes to downtown New Town, as well as improvements to N.D. Highway 37, N.D. Highway 22, tribal and county roads.
Whether you like it or not, Mountrail County has come on to the world’s stage primarily because of oil and gas production and the Three Affiliated Tribes doesn’t see it letting up any time soon.
TAT Chairman Marcus Levings told a group gathered Aug. 26 to talk about four laning N.D. Highway 23 from Watford City to the intersection of U.S. Highway 83, that it is anticipated that up to 600 oil wells could be drilled in this county in the next several years. That means a continued influx of workers to extract that oil.
“We’re on the map and we’re going to remain on the map,” Levings said. “I know Highway 23 well. It’s moved from slower times after the ‘80s bust. But now we’re back to fossil fuels, which is a main stay because of world needs. Projections are up to 600 wells. Even if it was 100 wells, it would be a huge impact.”
North Dakota has recently moved from 10th to seventh in the United States in oil production and Mountrail County has become the second-leading oil producer in the state behind Bowman County.
That coupled with farming, tourism, fishing and people passing through western North Dakota, has caused incredible snarls in traffic on N.D. 23. Worse than that, several fatalities have been reported on this highway in recent months and as far as Levings is concerned, that is the end of the speculation and something now has to be done to fix the situation that is only growing worse.

The Weather Network