Efforts supporting four-laning 52 continue

Supporters of four-laning U.S. Highway 52 between Minot and Voltaire are looking at next steps after a delegation met earlier this month with Gov. Doug Burgum to make their case.

Representatives of the Ward County Commission, Minot Area Chamber EDC, Velva Economic Development Corp., Verendrye Electric Cooperative and local legislators were among a group providing input at the meeting with the governor and his staff as well as with representatives from the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

Ward County Commission Chairman John Fjeldahl said no decisions were made. However, while waiting to hear back from the governor, plans are to meet again with legislators to “decide what action or direction we’re going, to keep this in focus,” he said.

Ward County Highway Engineer Dana Larsen said the first step should be persuading the state to add an environmental study for a four-laning project to its five-year capital improvements program. State law says NDDOT will study a four-lane concept when a major reconstruction is planned, and Larsen noted it can be argued a proposed passing lane and safety improvement project triggers that study.

An environmental study also would provide data to determine the potential cost of four-laning versus other types of improvements, Larsen said.

“We’d love to say, ‘Hey, there’s enough money. Let’s move forward with a four lane, but I don’t think that’s there. I think we at least get that first phase done, where we do that environmental study to understand all the impacts,” he said.

Fjeldahl said NDDOT representatives indicated an environmental study could cost $5 million to $6 million.

Seven counties so far have provided letters of support to the governor for the request for four-laning Highway 52 between Minot and Voltaire. Only a segment of the highway near Minot now has four lanes.


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