DOT to examine intersection

Recent fatal accident spurs scrutiny

Kim Fundingsland/MDN A recent fatal accident has raised concerns about traffic safety at this U.S. Highway 83 and Ward County Road 8 intersection at Ruthville.

RUTHVILLE – A public informational session may be held in the wake of a recent fatal accident that occurred at the intersection of U.S. Highway 83 and Ward County Road 8.

On Feb. 15 a 21-year-old Minot Air Force Base man, William Buchanan, collided with a Kenworth tractor-trailer near Ruthville. Buchanan was southbound from Minot AFB to Minot when his 1996 Toyota Corolla slid underneath the westbound semi-trailer driven by Dennis Surprenant, 31, Minot. Buchanan died two days later in a Minot hospital as a result of his injuries.

According to the North Dakota Highway Patrol, Surprenant failed to yield at the intersection. The report said charges were pending against Surprenant but no charges had been filed against him as of late Tuesday.

The intersection is marked by overhead lights, thought by some to be inadequate to warn motorists of the possible dangers. Paul Engledinger, Burlington, says he has experienced a few close calls at the intersection and thinks some changes should be made.

“I’m thinking they should probably do a speed reduction. It’s 70 miles per hour there now,” said Engledinger. “Maybe there needs to be a signal light there, maybe. At least the overhead warning lights should be enhanced.”

The overhead lights flash red for traffic traveling east or west across Highway 83 and orange for those traveling north or south on Highway 83. However, depending on the time of day or direction of travel, seeing the lights can be an issue.

“The northbound light is a very low light until you get close to it,” said Engledinger. “It ought to be replaced with a state of the art LED.”

The North Dakota Department of Transportation maintains records of accidents throughout the state, including those that have occurred at the Ruthville intersection. According to their records there was one fatality and three serious injury crashes at the intersection from 2008-2012 and one fatality and one serious injury crash from 2013-2017. The crash statistics are not considered to be high.

Nevertheless, says the DOT, in the interest of public safety, they are going to take another look at the intersection to see if any changes should be made. In addition, they are asking for public input.

“We’re looking at it. It sounds like we’ll have a public meeting probably sometime in March,” said Jamie Olson, DOT. “It will probably be held in Minot, kind of like a public forum. It’s not really to determine a solution at that time but a chance for us to receive input.”