Theodore Roosevelt Expressway
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Scoping Comments - Project 9-085(085)075, PCN 20046; US Highway 85 - I-94 to Watford City Bypass (McKenzie County Road 30) and the rehabilitation or replacement of the historic Long X Bridge over the Little Missouri River.

Please review and add your name and comments to the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway’s Letter.

Your Participation is Key to expanding U.S. 85 in Western North Dakota.




Dear Ms. Lares and Mr. Linneman :

The purpose of this letter is to provide comments regarding Issues, concerns and benefits associated with the scoping of the above referenced project.

This section of U.S. Highway 85 and the Long X Bridge are on the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway, a High Priority Corridor on the National Highway System that connects to other congressionally designated High Priority Corridors, including the Heartland Expressway, Ports-to-Plains and a portion of the Camino Real in creating a corridor connecting a ten state region between Mexico and Canada.

The Purpose of the Proposed Project

The purpose of the proposed project is to address capacity, transportation demand and system linkage, social demands and economic development, safety and roadway deficiencies of U.S. Highway from I-94 to Watford City Bypass (McKenzie County Road 30) and rehabilitation or replacement of the historic Long X Bridge over the Little Missouri River.

The Ports-to-Plains Alliance recognizes that rehabilitation of the Long X Bridge may be a required alternative but rehabilitation will do little to meet the needs of the proposed project outlined below.

The Need for the Proposed Project

The need for the proposed project is driven by increased heavy truck traffic along U.S. Highway 85, including I-94 to Watford City Bypass (McKenzie County Road 30). Roadway improvements are needed to address capacity, transportation demand and system linkage, social demands and economic development, safety and roadway deficiencies.

  • Capacity
    • Current and projected traffic volumes for US Highway 85 exceed the capacity for the roadway
    • The bridge deck of the existing Long-X Bridge is not wide enough to accommodate four lanes of traffic and cannot be widened due to its design.
    • Increased Travel Times
  • Roadway Deficiencies — Current roadway deficiencies along the project include the following:
    • Increased heavy truck traffic has resulted in excessive rutting of the roadway leading to ride quality issues and higher overall maintenance costs.
    • The existing roadway has an insufficient number of left and right-hand turn lanes throughout the project corridor.
  • Transportation Demands and System Linkage
    • U.S. Highway 85 is part of the National Highway System (NHS) which is a network of roadways important to the nation’s economy, defense and mobility.
    • The Theodore Roosevelt Expressway (TRE), including the project being proposed, was designated by Congress as a High Priority Corridor on the National Highway System in 2005. TRE became the final piece of the Ports-to-Plains corridor that includes additional High Priority Corridors of the Heartland Expressway, Ports-to-Plains and portions of the Camino Real.
    • Traffic along the corridor has experienced unprecedented growth in the past eight years, primarily due to truck and commercial traffic related to oil and gas development in western North Dakota.
  • Social Demands and Economic Development
    • Oil and Gas - The increased oil and gas development has created an economic demand for a roadway that will accommodate the increased activity while maintaining an efficient transportation system.
    • Tourism - Travel and tourism is a $4.6 billion industry in North Dakota and ranks as the state’s third largest industry according to TransAction III, the North Dakota State Transportation Plan.
    • Agriculture - Agriculture continues to lead North Dakota’s economy, annually accounting for between 20 and 30 billion dollars of activity according to TransAction III, the North Dakota State Transportation Plan
    • Labor Force Needs – Each of the industries above depends on a labor force that uses the highway and bridge being considered by this Environmental Impact Study.
  • Safety
    • The safety of the traveling public is of paramount importance and currently U.S. Highway 85 conditions are resulting in significant accidents and fatalities.
    • Accidents can be significantly reduced on this two-lane segment of the corridor when they are upgraded to four-lane-divided highway. Rural roads are dangerous and improvements save lives. Each year, more than 42,000 Americans are killed and nearly 3 million are injured on our nation's highways. The total economic cost of these crashes exceeds $230 billion annually. Unfortunately, nearly 60 percent of highway fatalities typically occur on two-lane rural roads. When adjusted for vehicle miles traveled, according to the Governmental Accounting Office, some rural roads have a fatality rate over six times greater than urban interstates. These facts are extremely troubling since only 40 percent of all vehicle miles are traveled on two-lane rural roads.
    • Slow moving vehicles - Many trucks, because of the need for fuel efficiencies, are governed to speeds slower than the speed limit. Other trucks and passenger vehicles who want to travel the speed limit or faster become impatient and try to pass on the two-lane highways resulting in dangerous situations.
    • Overweight and oversize vehicles – This section of highway and bridge are used by significant permitted loads.
  • Roadway Deficiencies -- Current roadway deficiencies along the project include the following:
    • Increased heavy truck traffic has resulted in excessive rutting of the roadway leading to ride quality issues and higher overall maintenance costs.
    • The existing roadway has an insufficient number of left and right-hand turn lanes throughout the project corridor.
    • Proximity of existing access points in relation to the Lewis & Clark Bridge is not optimal for traffic operations.


The Alliance urges the environmental process to move forward as quickly as possible as these and other items are considered.



**Please add my comments and support to the TRE support letter.

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