Governor Jack Dalrymple on Monday met with officials from several counties and cities in western North Dakota to receive updates on the region's needs and to provide information regarding state assistance in addressing the impacts from oil and gas development.
Dalrymple traveled highways in western North Dakota's oil producing counties and met with city officials in Dickinson, Killdeer, Watford City and New Town. He also met with officials from Stark, Dunn, McKenzie and Mountrail counties. Attending Monday's meetings with the governor were state Transportation Director Francis Ziegler and Lance Gaebe, director of the Energy Infrastructure and Impact Office.
"Only by meeting regularly with residents in western North Dakota can we understand the dynamic impacts created by oil and gas development," Dalrymple said. "The state is committed and fully engaged in meeting the challenges that come with rapid growth in western North Dakota."
The governor plans to meet with other city and county officials in western North Dakota in the coming weeks and he has directed state agencies to schedule and participate in a series of upcoming community meetings throughout western North Dakota to help meet the region's needs.
The three most frequent needs brought to Dalrymple's attention Monday were: enhancing emergency services; developing public infrastructure for housing construction and developing truck-reliever routes that enhance safety and minimize city traffic.
In January, state officials from the Health Department, Department of Commerce, Highway Patrol, Department of Transportation, the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, the Energy Impact Office and the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency will participate in a series of community meetings throughout western North Dakota.
The meetings are an opportunity for state officials to hear from area residents in detail about the impacts of rapid oil development and to provide information regarding their work to address the region's needs.
Dalrymple said the state is a full partner in meeting the challenges of rapid growth in North Dakota's oil and gas counties.
The state has appropriated $1.2 billion to rebuild and repair roads in oil country and to address other oil impacts. The improvement projects include adding turning lanes and passing lanes to 40 miles of ND Highway 85, from Watford City to Williston. Plans are to eventually turn ND 85 into a four-lane highway. The vast majority of state funding, $885.3 million, remains to be distributed to enhance emergency services, to extend city streets and other infrastructure for new housing development and to address other impacts. The North Dakota Department of Transportation also is constructing a truck reliever route for Williston and other reliever routes are under consideration for Dickinson, Alexander, New Town and Watford City.
During the recent special legislative session Dalrymple proposed and the Legislature agreed to provide $15 million for the state Housing Fund to facilitate greater development of low-income housing. Of the total funds, $13.5 million is designated for new, low-income housing development in western North Dakota. Dalrymple also has directed the Highway Patrol to station an additional 13 troopers in western North Dakota.