WATFORD CITY, N.D. (AP) — State officials announced the start of work Thursday on two highway bypass projects intended to relieve heavy trucking traffic in North Dakota's western oil patch.
A $50.3 million, 6-mile-long bypass in Watford City and a $25 million, 3.2-mile bypass in New Town, about 50 miles to the east, are expected to be completed later this year.
"These bypasses will provide greatly needed traffic relief to these growing communities and enhance road safety," Gov. Jack Dalrymple said in a statement.
Department of Transportation Director Grant Levi said almost 3,900 trucks pass through Watford City daily. Another 3,500 trucks travel through New Town every day.
Construction on another $80 million bypass to the west of Watford City began last year and is expected to be completed this fall.
In total, the state is spending $409 million to cover the construction costs of truck bypass routes for the oil patch towns of Williston, Watford City, Dickinson, New Town and Alexander.
Last month, ground was broken on a 13-mile truck reliever route around Williston and a 3.7-mile bypass around Alexander.
The roads of North Dakota's oil patch have seen steep rise in truck traffic and fatal traffic accidents since the oil boom began. Oil production in North Dakota relies on hydraulic fracturing, a process that requires thousands of truck trips to an oil well in the first year of a well's life alone.
Hydraulic fracturing is the practice of injecting a pressurized mix of water, sand and chemicals into a well to fracture rocks and promote the flow of oil and gas.