Governor Jack Dalrymple today said the state is making significant progress on road and highway improvements and in developing housing throughout North Dakota's oil and gas counties. Additionally, the North Dakota Highway Patrol will soon station more officers in western North Dakota to serve the region's public safety needs.
"The rapid expansion in oil and gas production has been a welcomed, but challenging element in our economic growth," Dalrymple said. "We have committed an unprecedented amount of state funding and resources for major infrastructure improvements and to address other needs that come with oil and gas development.
"We will continue to work with private industry and local leaders to help them meet the needs of residents in western North Dakota," Dalrymple said.
This year, the North Dakota Department of Transportation is overseeing improvements to about 670 miles of North Dakota highways in western North Dakota. The Transportation Department will complete this fall "Super 2" construction on 40 miles of U.S. Highway 85, between Watford City and Williston. The $47 million project includes additional turning lanes and passing lanes that will help ease road congestion and enhance safety for motorists. Plans are for Highway 85 to eventually become an undivided, 4-lane highway between Watford City and Williston.
This week, the city of Williston and Williams County commissioners have approved a route for a permanent northwest bypass to alleviate traffic in Williston. Transportation Department officials immediately began work to draft an environmental study and a project design- steps toward securing right-of-way property. To help meet the community's pressing needs for traffic relief, the state, in cooperation with Williams County, will begin construction of a temporary gravel-surface bypass in the spring of 2012, with plans to open the temporary bypass to traffic in early summer of 2012. (See attachment for Williston's temporary and permanent bypass routes)
The Transportation Department is also considering bypass routes for the cities of Dickinson, Alexander, New Town and Watford City. The state has provided $2 million for environmental studies needed to advance work on bypass routes for Williston and Dickinson. The state also has budgeted $3 million for Williston's permanent bypass. Other major roadway projects in western North Dakota and the status of those projects is as follows:
* The Transportation Department will complete this year road repairs due to landslides on ND Highway 22, ND 73, US 85 and ND 1804.
* Construction on ND Highway 22 north of Killdeer is on schedule to be completed in December.
* ND 1806 north of Watford City to Tobacco Gardens is open to traffic. Repairs have been completed to 13 miles of the roadway and work on another 12-mile stretch will be completed this fall or early spring.
* ND 8 from ND 23 to Stanley is open to traffic. The road construction will be completed next spring.
* ND 8 from Stanley north to ND 50 is open to traffic and construction is expected to be completed this year.
* ND 23 west of New Town is open to traffic with constructed expected to be completed this year.
* The state has provided $142 million to improve the region's county roads. The funding is being used for 59 county road projects.
Enhancing Highway Patrol Enforcement
The North Dakota Highway Patrol expects to graduate 12 troopers in December and the majority of them will be assigned to work in North Dakota's oil and gas counties in addition to troopers already serving the region. The troopers will be stationed in cities including Killdeer, Crosby, Watford City, Hazen, Williston, Dickinson, Bowman and Stanley. Until then, Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. James Prochniak is rotating in troopers from other areas of the state for temporary duty to help patrol the region's highways and to enforce load restrictions. The Highway Patrol continues to organize regular enforcement saturations throughout western North Dakota to enforce traffic laws and to maintain a strong presence.
The Legislature is expected to consider additional funding for more highway patrol officers during a special legislative session set to begin Nov. 3. The Highway Patrol is prepared to expedite the start of another training program so that additional highway patrol officers can be trained and ready for service in western North Dakota and in other areas of the state by mid- summer.
Additionally, the Department of Transportation and Highway Patrol are working to streamline the process of issuing permits for overweight and oversized loads. Permits can be obtained on line, and the Highway Patrol is integrating new software to speed up the process of providing motor carriers with approved travel routes for "super loads." The Highway Patrol also is hiring additional help and training existing staff to assist in issuing permits.
In western North Dakota, the state is facilitating residential development by providing $100 million in impact grants. Communities are using these funds to extend their sewer and water services, to build streets and expand their water treatment plants -- projects that directly support the development of additional residential housing.
Private developers are responding to the housing demand in a big way. More than 2,300 new housing units in Dickinson alone are in various stages of development, including 700 single family homes, 200 duplexes and 270 apartment units. In Williston, more than 1,750 new housing units are in development, including 218 single family homes, 102 manufactured homes and 537 apartment units. These housing units include hotels and extended-stay facilities. The region's many housing projects include:
* In northeast Minot, Stonebridge Farms is building 22 single-family homes, 48 townhouses, 84 two-and three-bedroom apartments, 24 twin homes and a 48-unit apartment complex. The project's second phase calls for building another 230 single-family homes.
* A group of private companies are building a residential community for 1,000 people in the Watford City area. The project will include single-family homes, twin homes, patio homes and apartments for company employees.
* Annabelle Homes opened its first 54-home subdivision, in Stanley in September. The development company plans to construct another 100 homes, including single-family and multi-unit townhomes in Stanley and three nearby communities - Tioga, Kenmare and Columbus.
* Holms Development Corp. has begun work on a housing project in Columbus, N.D. that calls for building 400 homes and about 500 apartment units.
* Diamond Acres LLP, is constructing a 104-acre housing development in Northeast Dickinson. The project includes about 190 lots for single- and multi-family homes as well as 10 commercial lots.
* Halliburton is in the early stages of building 30 new homes for its employees in Williston.
Low Income and Senior Housing
In the past five years, North Dakota has provided more than $5 million in tax credits to spur the development of low-income housing projects in the state's oil and gas counties. These tax credits have fostered the development of low-income housing for 394 families. Senior housing and low-income housing projects in western North Dakota include:
* In August Gov. Dalrymple traveled to Williston to celebrate the opening of the Williston Senior Apartments. The complex features 40 one- and two-bedroom apartments for low income elderly tenants.
* Community Developers Inc. has built 51 units of affordable rental housing in Williston.
* Construction began in August on Nokota Ridge, a 40-unit apartment complex in Williston. The project received tax credits and in return will provide low-income housing.
* In Dickinson, California Commercial Investments purchased and is rehabilitating Pioneer-Peaceful Haven, a 106-unit complex that will serve the elderly.
* Lutheran Social Services Housing Inc. is building in Tioga two multi-family rental facilities targeted to lower-income households. A 26-unit apartment building and a 10- unit townhome project are under development.
* Lutheran Social Services Housing has developed 20 rental units in Parshall to provide housing for people on fixed incomes.
* Lutheran Social Services has rehabilitated a building in Stanley, converting the structure into 16 rental units for low- and moderate-income families.
* Lutheran Social Services has completed a 24-unit rental project in Watford City.
* In Belfield, Lutheran Social Services is developing 8 two-bedroom apartments and 4 three-bedroom apartments for low- and moderate-income households.