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Article Credit to Western Energy Development Association Attached Pictures provided by NDDOT

Crews Making Progress on Hwy 85
Four-Lane Project on Schedule for 2024


Grading and construction crews from Minnesota-based Central Specialties Inc. are continuing work to move millions of cubic yards of dirt and are installing culverts and retaining walls as part of the company's contract to construct the divided four-lane on Highway 85 between Watford City and the Long X Bridge.

The Alexandria, Minnesota contractor was awarded a $77.2 million contract in February for the 10.29 miles of Hwy 85 in the project. The southern part of the route runs through the Little Missouri Badlands, an area with highly-eroded buttes and hillsides made up of soft silts and clays with sparse vegetation, requiring extensive grading work to carve out space for two additional lanes.


Construction will continue until winter freeze up, and will concentrate on the southern portion of the route, according to Bill Gathman, engineer with the Northwest Region of the ND Department of Transportation. Gathman said grading work has been completed on some portions of the four-lane project, and crews will soon be putting down gravel road base in preparation for paving.


NDDOT is getting double duty out of the project. Gathman said 400,000 cubic yards of fill material have been removed from the slide area near the LongX Bridge. Removing the dirt will lessen the risk of another slide, and the fill is being put to good use in other parts of the project.


NDDOT has already upgraded Hwy 85 to a four-lane divided highway from Williston to Watford City, including reliever routes, and the replacement of the Lewis and Clark Bridge over the Missouri River. The Long X Bridge has already been upgraded to four-lanes with clearance for freight movements.


The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2024. Preliminary efforts are also underway for the next leg of the four-lane expansion, which will run from the LongX Bridge south to Highway 200 near Grassy Butte.


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