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Highway 85 Expansion is moving forward with purchasing property this summer. According to the Williston Herald, “The 2021 Legislature again included a $50 million loan authorization to four-lane a 10.3 mile stretch of the highway from Watford City south to the new Long X bridge.” The proposed Highway 85 project comprises approximately 62 miles of roadway in North Dakota. The project begins at the I-94 interchange and runs north to the Watford City bypass. The project proposes to expand this portion of Highway 85 from a two-lane to a four-lane highway in the hopes of improving the flow of traffic and minimizing potential environmental impacts. Right of way acquisition is projected to begin sometime this year.

The reconstruction of Highway 85 aims to reduce congestion and increase safety by widening passing zones, allowing for continuous passing opportunities, and normalizing driving speeds. The recent four-laning of Long Bridge X has equipped the bridge to handle heavier traffic and encourage wildlife to stay off the road. The installation of wildlife fences in the area help prevent accidents and protect wildlife in the region.

The first phase of the project concluded with the replacement of the Long X Bridge in Summer 2021. Four-laning of the highway from 200 to the newly completed bridge is the second phase of the plan to four-lane the highway from Watford City to Belfield. It is estimated that the project will cost $479 million once completed.

Learn more about the eminent domain process in North Dakota.