Sunday, December 22, 2013

New Four-Lane Bridge To Cross The Missouri Southwest Of Williston; Maybe The Biggest Announcement In The Bakken This Year


January 20, 2014 The Bismarck Tribune is reporting that DOT will construct an under-the-highway passageway for wildlife on the south side of the new Lewis and Clark bridge south of Williston across the Missouri River. I'm not exactly sure where this "wildlife passage" will be but the article suggests it will be between Watford City and Alexander, but it's a bit confusing.
Part of the $300 million the North Dakota Department of Transportation has committed to upgrade U.S. Highway 85 between Williston and Watford City will include a first-of-its-kind wildlife underpass, or crossing. At least it’s the first of its kind in North Dakota.
Work on a portion of the project between Watford City and Alexander is already underway, but the bridge part of the job won’t be bid until sometime this spring.
That last sentence is confusing to me. They have to be talking about the "new" bridge but that's well north of Alexander; it's just five or six miles southwest of Williston. But they are definitely talking about the bridge southwest of Williston:
The new bridge will be a four-lane structure 1,519 feet long and 84.5 feet wide, he said.
The existing bridge, which opened in 1973, is situated in a historically, culturally and environmentally sensitive area.
I assume the new bridge would be in the same place as the existing bridge. Maybe not. I remain a bit confused. Sometimes reporters work too hard at being "interesting" and the story becomes muddled.

This article says the existing Lewis and Clark Bridge will be demolished by 2016

This is a photo and specifications of the existing bridge.
  • note the length: 1,530 feet.
  • note the width: 36 feet. 
Putting this all together this is what I think is what is being described:
there is an approved $300 million project for a four-land highway from Watford City via Alexander to Williston (the same US Highway which has been widened in places already).
Part of that route includes a new Lewis and Clark Bridge across the Missouri River six miles southwest of Williston. The bridge has been "approved" but the cost has not been determined; the environmental impact statements are still being prepared; and various state and federal agencies have not yet provided their input and/or approval.
There's been a lot of talk about how to demolish the existing bridge; explosives will not be used. The bridge will be dismantled piece-by-piece, and a net put in place, to keep pieces from falling into the river and disrupting river life.
It sounds as if the new bridge will be alongside (west or east) of the existing bridge since other stories talk about the existing bridge being demolished by 2016. Due the recently expanded water treatment plant on the northeast side of the river, I assume the north-side access of the bridge will have to be to the west, coming very close to the existing CLR Atlanta 14-well pad.
The $300 million project will also include an under-the-highway-wildlife passage located at some unspecified location between Watford City and Williston.
On a related note, it appears folks are getting so excited (think tingles up their spines) about this wildlife passageway they are already talking about similar passageways all along US Highway from Williston to Dickinson.

This news will make this woman happy:

Deer Crossing Signs Proliferate

Original Post

The Bismarck Tribune is reporting:
The North Dakota Department of Transportation said the Lewis and Clark Bridge that spans the Missouri River in Williston will be demolished.
The two-lane bridge will be razed in 2016.
The bridge will be replaced with a four-lane bridge as part of the widening of U.S. Highway 85 to accommodate escalating traffic in western North Dakota's oil patch.
Regular readers know that I have talked about this bridge a dozen times; it is the choke point southwest of Williston, literally in the center of the Bakken. It straddles the river dividing the two counties that are the two major counties in the current Bakken boom: McKenzie County and Williams County. 

I'm trying to figure out why the reporter made a special note to remind readers that "no explosives" will be used to bring the bridge down. It's almost bizarre what folks seem to be worried about these days.

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