November 29, 2012: Update --from The Bismarck Tribune -- Williston's truck reliever route just hit a speed bump. Huge speed bump. Back to square one.
An amazing array of archaeological features ended hopes of building a bypass around northwest Williston preferred by officials because it’s shortest, closest and cheapest.
The State Department of Transportation built a temporary northwest bypass earlier this year, but a preferred route for a permanent one has been fairly well stopped in its tracks by the discovery of more than 8,000 ancient archaeological features, including burials and cemeteries along both sides of the route.This is too big a deal for the DOT to overcome. Oh, well. It looks like the temporary route is going to be a bit more permanent.
But wouldn't you know it? There's already state and county roads in place that would "fill the bill."
The "best route" for the TRR would require a few miles of new road. But environmental impact studies would take "five months minimum" and thus no chance of the route being completed by 2012.
The Good News
The good news is that the route is practically already there.
The Williston Herald has a nice graphic of the proposed temporary route (now requires a password/subscription).
Except for two curves on the west portion of the TRR, it's practically as good as the "permanent" solution. Sometimes one gets the feeling that folks are overthinking the problem.
From my perspective, instead of building a new road on the west side to straighten out the curves, the best highway engineering minds need to be concentrating on designing three intersections: the intersection at "2&85" at 4-mile corner on the west side; the intersection where the TRR intersects State Highway 2 north of Williston; and, the intersection of 1804 and County Road 9 on the east side. The intersections are going to be the challenge, not the curves.
On a completely different note: funding.
From the Herald story yesterday:
Commissioner David Montgomery said he was concerned that if County Road 9 is used as the east bypass, the county will be in a bind to maintain the road.Question: what do the following highways and bridges have in common: New Jersey turnpike; Boston's I-90; Kansas I-35; Pebble Beach's 17-Mile Drive, San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, and many, many others?
Commission Chairman Dan Kalil said the new truck route is a three-way effort between the county, city and state.
"We can't go into this bypass thinking all of the expenses will be paid by the county," Kalil said.
They're toll roads. Unless there's some law that says they can't do it, I don't understand why they don't make the Truck Reliever Road a toll road. Local farmers get free use, of course, but after that, there's a toll. It would certainly help keep Sunday drivers off the road, which the truckers would appreciate.
I'm not talking about a punitive toll. I'm talking about a fair-use toll to help pay for the road. Again, this is not rocket science, unless of course there is some law that says toll roads in North Dakota are illegal.
I used to hate toll roads, but they have their place. And the Truck Reliever Route would be one such place.