Highway 52 prompts cross border talks

Jill Schramm/MDN A truck leaves Minot Tuesday on U.S. Highway 52 on the portion of four lane highway that exists headed east.

KENMARE – Potential improvements to U.S. Highway 52 and the connecting Provincial 39 in Canada will be deliberated at a cross-border meeting Thursday in Kenmare.

A Highway 52 Committee has been promoting discussions to increase safety and commerce from Regina and Moose Jaw in Saskatchewan to Minot and Velva. The committee will hold a summit Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Kenmare High School Auditorium.

David Marit, minister of Saskatchewan Highways and Improvements, will be keynote speaker, and Assistant Deputy Minister Blair Wagar will be in attendance. Other speakers include state Rep. Dan Ruby of Minot, David Blair of the N.D. Automotive Vehicle Collaborative and the Central North American Trade Corridor Association and Thomas Sorel of the N.D. Department of Transportation.

Ruby, chairman of the N.D. House Transportation Committee, said Saskatchewan is creating a transportation hub in Regina and considering four-laning and spaced passing lanes in areas along Provincial 39 to facilitate commercial traffic. As a result, North Dakota could see more traffic coming across the border onto Highway 52, he said.

Working with Saskatchewan could help identify the potential impacts of increased traffic and also could help in creating uniformity in truck permitting and weight limits, he said.

Ruby believes North Dakota should consider a plan similar to that of Saskatchwan’s combination of four-laning and passing lanes in certain areas. To do so, though, the state must move Highway 52 improvements onto its priority list, he said.

Steve Pederson, a director on the board of the Central North American Trade Corridor Association, agreed there are places along Highway 52 that should be four-laned and other places where passing lanes could be built at regular intervals. His hope is that bringing people together Thursday will encourage dialogue that can lead to these types of improvements.

“This is about safety and about getting people to collaborate and start to work across borders,” he said.

“The goal of the meeting is to keep Highway 52 on the state’s radar – that this road should be upgraded,” said Randy Hauck, general manager of Verendrye Electric, Velva, which has been a strong advocate for highway improvements. Hauck noted the highway is a main truck route that is heavily used by local companies such as ADM, Minot Milling and CF Industries.

If proposed improvements occur on the Canadian side, it would only make sense to keep those improvements going south of the border, Hauck said.

“We certainly think it should be on the state DOT’s long-range plan to make some major improvements,” he said.