I arrived safely in the Bakken about ninety minutes ago. First impression: many trucks headed south out of the Bakken, but Williston itself seems busier than ever. The big trucks are gone but it feels like there is more small truck, pick-up, SUV traffic than when I was last here in April (2015). Six months ago, it felt a bit too quiet; somewhat concerning. This time, the city "feels" really, really busy. I was surprised by how much construction is going on.
The highway construction is pretty much complete from south of Watford City to Williston, but the city street construction is incredible. Main Street and downtown has had a lot of street work completed, but immediately north of downtown (JC Penney area) it appears more Main Street construction. I was turning south toward Amtrak and was not paying a lot of attention to the construction to the north, due to changes at the intersections that I had to watch. The Main Street construction was pretty much just beginning when I was here last April.
Several residential streets on the east side of Williston, from near Main Street all the way over to University Avenue are completely torn up and being replaced.
The new high school (photos and video later) has come a long way. It will be interesting how much of the building they will get enclosed before the worst of winter comes along. I find JE Dunn Construction everywhere -- on the far northwest side of town putting up the new high school, and the southeast side of town, near the huge recreation center that must be about a year old now.
But traffic everywhere; busy everywhere. I've only been in Williston for about 30 minutes. Menards is open; I think I read that Menards in Williston and Jamestown were to open September 9 -- which would be today. There were no huge "grand opening" signs. Menards sits on the west side of the brand new road that connects the south end of the bypass to the huge housing development northwest of Williston, where the new high school is. That very, very long stretch of road has NO intersection signals; instead there are four roundabouts. Really, really cool. Very impressive. Slows traffic down at the same time it keeps traffic moving. At the last roundabout (north) is the "old" Statoil 4-well pad that was quite impressive when it was first going in; hardly inside city limits at the time. Now it almost seems quaint or "typical" -- just part of the landscape and now inside city limits.
The highway from south of Watford City to Williston is incredible. Four lanes all the way with additional lanes to exit as well as a center lane for turning. I was surprised how relatively slow vehicular traffic was moving; it seemed when the big trucks were here during the height of the boom and we only had the old two-lane highway, I had to move along at 75 mph if I didn't want to get pushed off.
Today I could easily travel at 55 - 60 mph and not feel pushed at all. The bridge southwest of Williston, the new Missouri River bridge, is coming along. I think there were three huge cranes working on it (video to follow).
I was also surprised to see at least one new residential development just starting construction. Many, many new streets in Williston, obviously most on the west side. I haven't driven across the new overpass which must be the "talk of the town." I'll do that later.
The weather is beautiful and apparently will remain so the next few days. I will be here for only a day or two.
But those were my initial impressions. Much, much busier than I expected. Much, much less chaos. Lots of city street construction -- much, much more than I have ever seen in the city.