In an effort to improve travel between north and south Bismarck, the city commission approved expediting a Highway Safety Improvement Program project, which would convert several two-lane roads to three lanes throughout the city.

Bismarck received $1.7 million from the North Dakota Department of Transportation to complete the 2021 project, but Gabe Schell, the city's engineer, asked that consideration be given to accelerating the construction and restriping of four of the eight corridors to 2019.

The four corridors to be prioritized are Divide Avenue from 26th Street to Schafer Street, Washington Street from Divide Avenue to Calgary Avenue, Fourth Street from Boulevard Avenue to Century Avenue and 19th Street from Divide Avenue to Hay Creek Court.

"One benefit is a decrease in crashes along these corridors," Schell said.

The conversion would be made specific to each corridor, and public input will be sought prior to implementation.

"We foresee an alternative that implements the three-lane section while keeping parking on one side of the road and an alternative that implements the three-lane section with removing parking from both sides," Schell said. "With parking removed, there would be an opportunity to stripe bicycle facilities."

According to a 2017 Livability Summit survey of more than 1,200 citizens, the No. 1 change requested for Bismarck's transportation system was an increased ability to drive north and south in the community.

Because the city's 2018 asphalt rehabilitation projects may overlap with some of these corridors, prioritizing the four would provide a cost savings to certain special assessment districts, as the permanent pavement markings could be paid for by HSIP dollars.

In addition, the Bismarck-Mandan Metropolitan Planning Organization's Bike and Pedestrian Plan is nearing completion, which may identify opportunities for bicycle and pedestrian components.

"As long as the public has a chance to be able to voice their opinion, then I'm OK with it," said Commissioner Steve Marquardt, at Tuesday night's commission meeting.

The project is expected to be bid and awarded in late 2018, with construction slated to begin in 2019.

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