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Let’s hear NDDOT’s intersection options

When the North Dakota Department of Transportation proposed building a $25.8 million roundabout at an intersection south of Minot, many local people turned out for a public input meeting in the Max community hall more than two months ago to air their objections to the proposal. The roundabout idea was met with almost no support from the area residents.

Input coming from the public is important to projects. People need to have their voices heard, and those in charge of proposed or planned projects need to listen to them.

In the case of the roundabout, the N.D. Transportation Department proposed it at that December meeting as the only solution to the intersection of U.S. Highway 83 and N.D. Highway 23.

Those attending the December meeting – some who travel through the intersection daily – pointed out to the N.D. Transportation Department other ways to improve the intersection besides building a roundabout. Many at the meeting indicated a strong preference for an interchange, and some suggested other less extensive and more inexpensive changes that could make the intersection safer. They also were concerned about crashes in the roundabout and demands on local emergency responders.

The NDDOT told those in attendance that the agency would accept comments through Dec. 21, and a plan for the intersection could be decided by February, but if an alternative other than the roundabout advances, the department will come back before the public.

Whether any of the ideas presented at the December meeting will be used as a solution is not known but it appears the department heard the voice of the people and will be bringing back ideas for alternatives.

Earlier this month, Derek Pfeifer, program manager of the Transportation Department’s Design Division, a presenter at the December meeting in Max, sent a project update saying, “The NDDOT has reviewed the comments and will be including additional alternative options for consideration to improve the intersection at the junction of US 83 and ND 23.

“As promised, the NDDOT will present the additional alternatives at a public meeting, to tentatively take place later in 2024, where citizens will have the opportunity to learn about the alternative options and provide input.”

The intersection of U.S. Highway 83 and N.D. Highway 23 is considered the state’s No. 1 for serious crashes, having had 10 minor crashes and seven severe crashes in the past five years, including three fatalities in 2023.

Roundabouts, sometimes called traffic circles or rotaries, are circular intersections and popular solutions or trends with road experts to remedy a situation arising at an intersection.

N.D. Transportation Department personnel at the December presentation called roundabouts safer, with less severe crashes when crashes do occur. They assured those attending the meeting the department would not go through with a project until after hearing public input and comments.

It is commendable for NDDOT to follow through to keep the public updated and also to come up with alternative options to be presented at a meeting sometime this year. Our governments, whether local, state or federal, need to work this way to keep the public involved and updated.

We are counting on the NDDOT to continue to listen to the traveling public, to be flexible in its consideration of a solution and resolve the problem of a dangerous intersection with a project that truly works for the hundreds of motorists who utilize it every day.

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