US 85 Bypass Next to Watford City Value Place Hotel Now Open
November 5, 2014
Watford City bypasses finally open
Posted 11/04/14 (Tue)
By Amy Robinson
Farmer Staff Writer
It was almost eerie in Watford City last Tuesday evening. Almost by
magic, nearly a third of the more than 12,000 vehicles per day that had
been congesting the junction of U.S. Highway 85 and N.D. 23, was gone.
Gone too, were traffic jams and long lines of vehicles that Watford City
residents had become accustomed to enduring.
But magic had nothing to do with the vanishing traffic. Instead, it had
everything to do with the opening of the two long-awaited bypasses
around Watford City. And when those two new routes officially opened
last Tuesday, city officials and residents were thrilled to see some
degree of normalcy, when it comes to traffic congestion, return to this
rapidly growing community.
“It feels like we have our town back,” said Sanford. “For those of us
driving within the inner-circle of Watford City, it is so nice not
having this train of tankers and white pick-up trucks. I can’t express
how that feels.”
Even North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple had experienced Watford City’s
daunting traffic issues first-hand and knew something had to be done.
“I remember it was Spring and we had just broke ground on these
bypasses,” remembered Dalrymple. “We were coming from the airport and
got stuck in some traffic. So, we turned around and tried a different
route and got stuck in some more traffic. Then I said to myself, we
really need a bypass here!”
The crowd laughed at his story, as excitement and anticipation filled
the room. Tuesday, Oct. 28, Dalrymple was joined by North Dakota
Department of Transportation (NDDOT) Director Grant Levi, Watford City
Mayor Brent Sanford, and other state and local officials to celebrate
the completion of three highway bypass projects in Watford City and
Alexander, and the second phase of the U.S. 85 four-lane project between
Watford City and Williston.
“I want to thank the governor for this historic funding,” said Sanford.
“I want to thank the Legislature and I want to thank all of the local
leadership. This is a very historic day, a very exciting day for us here
in Watford City.”
The state has provided approximately $200 million to construct the U.S.
85 project to significantly enhance traffic flow and roadway safety in
western North Dakota, and the bypasses to reduce truck traffic in the
communities of Watford City and Alexander.
“We are committed to continuing to address the impacts of rapid growth
in western North Dakota. And a key part of those efforts is to ensure
that the region’s roadways are safe and the truck traffic on its main
streets is reduced,” said Dalrymple. “These bypass and four-lane
projects represent significant investments in the region’s
infrastructure and will bring much-needed traffic relief to these
According to Dalrymple. there are about 12,830 vehicles that pass
through Watford City and the surrounding communities every day, of which
about 5,000 are trucks. Watford City’s Southwest Bypass cost about $81
million and is 7.5 miles long, while the Southeast Bypass cost about $50
million and is 5.7 miles long. Both new bypasses provide for four-lane
“We have a team of engineers who allowed us to turn a project around in a
very short amount of time,” said Levi. “And with that, today is
possible. Today, we’ll have bypasses taking the trucks out of the
The 2013 and 2014 construction seasons represent the largest road
construction programs in state history, with more than $1.6 billion in
bids for roadway projects alone. The state is investing $409 million to
cover all the costs for the construction of the truck bypass routes in
western North Dakota. In addition to Watford City and Alexander, bypass
projects are underway in Dickinson, New Town and Williston.
“I want to give the Legislature full credit for this,” said Dalrymple.
“They made a huge commitment to western North Dakota. The state, as a
whole, recognizes that you have a very unique thing taking place here in
“I want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts with what is
happening out here,” said Ron Anderson, McKenzie County Commissioners
chairman. “Thank you so much.”
In all, the state will invest $2.7 billion to support the state’s oil
and gas region during the current biennium. The state commitment - more
than twice the amount of the previous, two-year funding package -
includes funding for highway, county and township road improvements,
water supply and water treatment projects and the development of
“We’re not only building roadways, but enhancing the quality of life,” said Levi. “And that’s really what we’re about.”
According to Levi, one can drive from Watford City to County Road 16 on a
brand new four-lane highway. The NDDOT is hopeful to have the next
phase, which includes the portion of U.S. 85 from County Road 16 to U.S.
2 completed by the end of next year, with the new Lewis & Clark
Bridge project slated for completion the following year.