Dalrymple, Western ND Officials Address Oil Impacts
BISMARCK, N.D. – Governor Jack Dalrymple on Tuesday traveled highways in western North Dakota and met with area officials to receive updates on the region’s needs in addressing the impacts of oil and gas development. Dalrymple also provided local officials with updates on the state’s ongoing work and long-range plans to meet the region’s needs.
“These meetings are important to understanding the challenges that come with oil and gas development and they are critical to coordinating local and state responses,” Dalrymple said. “We will continue working with local officials to help meet the region’s needs for additional housing, for enhanced emergency services and law enforcement and to help meet other challenges created by rapid growth.”
Dalrymple traveled highways in western North Dakota’s oil producing counties and met with city officials from Williston, Crosby, Tioga, Stanley and Bowbells. He also met with officials from Williams, Divide, Mountrail and Burke counties. Attending Tuesday’s meetings with the governor were Grant Levi, deputy director for engineering, state Department of Transportation and Lance Gaebe, director of the Energy Infrastructure and Impact Office.
The overriding needs most frequently brought to Dalrymple’s attention Tuesday were: enhancing emergency services and law enforcement, truck reliever routes to reduce traffic through communities and the development of additional housing. Tuesday’s meetings marked the second round of community visits by Dalrymple since Dec. 20. The Governor also has directed state agencies to participate in a series of upcoming meetings with local officials throughout western North Dakota to help address the region’s needs.
The state has appropriated $1.2 billion to rebuild and repair roads in oil country; to support the development of residential housing; to enhance emergency medical services and to address other oil impacts. Roadway 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 North Dakota Department of Transportation also is planning a truck reliever route for Williston and other reliever routes are under consideration for Dickinson, Alexander, New Town and Watford City. 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.
During the 2011 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.
The state’s 20-year strategic transportation plan sets the parameters for state road improvements throughout North Dakota. The Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute has augmented the statewide plan with a study of road conditions in oil and gas counties.